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GE expansion plans will upgrade Grove City engine plant

General Electric Co.'s transportation unit plans to spend $72 million to build a diesel engine plant and to upgrade a plant in Grove City, maintaining 100 jobs and adding 150 more by early 2013.

The manufacturer of rail, mining and transportation-related products said it will spend $35 million to build the diesel engine plant and invest $37 million by the end of next year in the existing plant to improve productivity, enhance processes and upgrade technology.

The facility will be on an existing GE site. About 100 employees will transfer from the current plant to the plant site, where a total of 250 will be employed. Production is scheduled to begin by the end of 2012. The additional employees will be hired by early 2013.

GE Transportation said the plant is needed because it expects demand for remanufacturing services to increase in coming years. That will be driven by routine locomotive overhaul cycles and the need to comply with stringent Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards for diesel engines by 2013.

"This new facility will enable GE Transportation to better serve its customers while meeting a dramatic increase in demand for remanufacturing," said GE spokesman Richard Simpson.

GE's Grove City plant has expanded its scope over the years to build new and remanufactured products. Its production of about 2,000 engines a year makes it one of the largest locomotive diesel engine manufacturing sites in the world.

GE Transportation is headquartered in Erie and employs about 11,000 worldwide.

Since May, GE Transportation has announced plans to invest about $327 million in manufacturing plants in Erie and Fort Worth this year and 2012, adding more than 2,400 jobs.

The actions are a major turnabout for GE. In 2009, the company announced plans to cut the 5,600-member work force at its Erie locomotive-manufacturing complex by nearly 28 percent -- blaming the reduction on the recession, cost pressures and a 40 percent lower production volume.

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