By Billy Davis
Twenty-four new employees at GE Aviation, on day two of their employment, went to work at Batesville Elementary School Tuesday.
At the school, some employees reworked flowerbeds while others scrubbed a hallway wall, getting it ready for a fresh coat of paint.
Big, colorful rugs were pulled from kindergarten classrooms into the hallway and school cafeteria for cleaning. With the school emptied for summertime, the only sound one heard was the hum of Rug Doctor steam cleaners.
The GE employees are participating in the company’s three-week orientation program. They jump in on Day Two to learn the company’s emphasis on volunteerism, said human resources leader Justin Whitman.
“We emphasize being part of the community and giving back,” explained Whitman.
The first batch of hirings at GE Aviation had also spent their second day at Batesville Elementary last summer. That group has since raised money for the March of Dimes and the American Cancer Society, and the GE workers are routinely volunteering their time at the Batesville Boys and Girls Club.
Whitman said the Batesville plant had planned to hire 20 workers to bolster its numbers but received permission for its corporate headquarters to add four more employees.
“We had 26 good prospects,” Whitman said of the whittled-down applications.
The company has received about 1,700 applications to date.
The new hirings bring the GE Aviation’s Batesville workforce to 55, including management positions, he said.
That number represents a miniscule workforce among Panola County industries, but company officials have stated plans to build the Batesville numbers to several hundred.
And the Batesville plant has plenty of room to grow: its cavernous 300,000-square-foot facility is the largest in the county.
Whitman said the new hirings would boost the plant’s manufacture and output of state-of-the-art parts for GE Aviation jet engines.
The Batesville plant is producing a fan blade platform, which is installed between the fan blades and the engine, as well as a fan case assembly. Both parts are made of carbon fiber and epoxy resin composite material.