By Billy Davis
GE Aviation has bumped its total Batesville workforce to 75 after adding 18 new employees in September, a plant spokesman announced last week.
The new hirings will allow GE to move to three eight-hour shifts five days a week, Justin Whitman, human resources leader, told The Panolian.
The company expects to add another 25 workers in November, Whitman also announced.
The Batesville plant manufactures state-of-the-art composite components for GE jet engines. The 300,000-square-foot plant opened in 2008.
The new hirings will join GE employees who are manufacturing fan platforms and the fan stator assembly for the GEnx jet engine.
Whitman said the assembly line workers, known as plant associates, “continue to impress us with their work ethic, quick learning, and overall energy as they start their career with GE Aviation.”
Plant officials have said hourly pay starts at $14 an hour, which is just under $30,000 annually, for new hirings.
GE has received more than 3,000 applications for its assembly line jobs since the company announced construction of a Batesville site.
At the Batesville site, GE associates follow a teamwork approach that relies on coordination among workers rather than direct oversight by management.
In August 100 key GE Aviation leaders studied the teamwork model at the Batesville plant, when they descended on Batesville and Oxford for a two-day conference.
The positive employment news at GE comes amidst the nationwide recession, which is moving into the fourth quarter of 2009 with unemployment flirting with double digits.
Unemployment in Panola County was 12.3 percent in August, mirroring all counties that touch Panola except Lafayette.
Mississippi’s unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in August.
“Most communities are losing jobs while Panola County has a net gain over the past 12 months,” said Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons.
Simmons, passing along more promising news, said Batesville plant Parker-Hannifin also expects to hire workers by the end of the year.
Parker plant manager Lisa Chism confirmed the plant expects to add workers in coming months.
Simmons, after returning from a delegation trip to Washington, D.C. last week, said talk in the nation’s capital is that the economy is expected to rebound in early 2010.
“When there’s an upturn in the economy, you will see companies becoming a lot more aggressive,” he said. “Panola County is well-positioned to benefit from that.”