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Originally published: 2014-06-12 10:41:44
Last modified: 2014-06-12 10:43:04

Our View: A foundation built on more than rock

The ceremonial groundbreaking for GE Aviation's new High Country expansion might have taken place in dirt and grass, but the foundation for the projected 80,000-square-foot addition won't be mountain land. 

That foundation will be mountain people.

When companies invest in the future, myriad factors go into the decision before a location is selected -- and this was certainly the case with GE's $65 million expansion in West Jefferson. And while factors such as tax incentives, real estate availability, water and proximity are vital to a company's success, all those tangibles are for naught if the community selected can't provide an adequate workforce.

Our High Country workforce is second to none, and this, in addition to a training partnership with our community college system, is the reason GE's local operation will add more than 100 well-paying jobs -- jobs recompensed at well above the median income -- swelling the plant's payroll to nearly 300 employees by 2017.

Speaking at the groundbreaking on June 5, Rep. Virginia Foxx thanked GE for the "statement it's making in terms of this facility." 

She was right to do so. That statement, made with five ceremonial shovels filled with dirt, said volumes about our region. 

This portion of GE's overall $195 million statewide investment says loudly and clearly that our High Country community is a worthy, rock-solid investment.