Aerospace company Pratt & Whitney plans to invest $386 million into its Columbus plant on Macon Road, pledging to create more than 500 jobs over five years.
The announcement, made Tuesday in Atlanta on Valentine’s Day by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, will add to the roughly 1,200 employees already at the Columbus complex, which has expanded several times since coming to the city in 1984. The new jobs will be in the areas of administrative, supervisory, technical support, production and maintenance.
“Pratt & Whitney has maintained a presence in Muscogee County since 1984 and this latest expansion speaks to Georgia’s support for our robust aerospace industry,” Deal said in a statement. “Georgia’s pro-business structural framework and deep talent pool help to retain industry leaders such as Pratt & Whitney. By adding these new high-quality manufacturing jobs, Pratt & Whitney is making a significant investment in the Columbus community and we look forward to strengthening this longstanding partnership as the company continues to grow.”
The expansion unveiled Tuesday comes with Pratt & Whitney already in a hiring mode at its Columbus facility. A search of its career page online shows nearly 70 positions available locally. Those jobs include engineering technician, maintenance, operations supervisor, mechanic, inspector, production control, machining, forging, tooling, senior analyst, deputy facilities manager, and various project and operations managers.
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The company, in a release, said the expansion will include construction of a 200,000-square-foot facility to overhaul geared turbofan engines and a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility for a new isothermal forge press, which will make turbine disks and compressors for Pratt & Whitney jet engines. The money is being spent to ramp up parts production and maintenance services, while reducing costs for the company’s engine programs. The effort also will include the purchase of automated machinery and equipment upgrades, it said.
It was last summer that Pratt & Whitney announced that it was investing $65 million into an overhaul of its Columbus Engine Center on Macon Road. The facility was launched in 1996. The company said it was retrofitting and installing new equipment to handle maintenance on its “PurePower Geared Turbofan” engine. Pratt also has a parts forging facility and an operation called PCI on the site in east Columbus.
Pratt & Whitney has about 34,000 on its payroll companywide, with it having more than 11,000 customers globally.
Chris Calio, president of Pratt & Whitney Commercial Engines, said the company is “investing heavily in our Columbus business to support the increased production and services planned for our F135 and GTF engines. This investment will ensure we have the appropriate infrastructure, tooling and trained workforce in place to provide the best products and services to our customers worldwide. The tremendous support we receive from the community and state have contributed to our success in Georgia.”
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who was on hand at the Capitol for the announcement, naturally, welcomed the money being spent in the city and the economic impact that the new jobs will have on the area.
“With today’s announcement of new investment of $386 million and 500 new employees, Pratt & Whitney builds on its role as one of our region’s largest and most important companies employing hundreds of our residents in well-paying jobs,” the mayor said in a statement. “As importantly, we are committed to doing everything we can to keep them growing in our community for decades to come.”
Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of conglomerate United Technologies Corp., said last summer that the Columbus Engine Center is the first site in the world to handle maintenance of the PurePower engines, also referred to as PW1000G engines. Other engines it is performing maintenance chores on include the PW1100G-JM, the PW1500G, the V2500, the PW2000, the F117 and the F100. In early 2016, it began construction in Columbus on a new engine test facility to complement the existing test area, the company said. Work on the center includes disassembly of jet engines, inspection of them, reassembly and testing.
Russ Carreker, chairman of the Columbus Development Authority, noted his group has worked with the aerospace firm several times over three-plus decades to add infrastructure and high-paying jobs, including the project in 2016.
“This major addition associated with the new Geared Turbofan engine work here at their Columbus operations proves the company is committed to our community for years to come and for that we are extremely grateful,” he said.
The Technical College System of Georgia also will have a hand in helping Pratt & Whitney find and train workers to “their world-class standards,” said the system’s Commissioner Gretchin Corbin. That includes efforts by Columbus Technical College and the state’s Quick Start training program. The company said Columbus Tech will offer four- to nine-week programs in the areas of aerospace mechanics and advanced manufacturing technologies.
Aside from the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and the Columbus Development Authority, the governor’s office said the expansion was pulled together by Lindsay Martin, director of Existing Industry & Regional Recruitment at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and Candice Scott, a project manager representing the state’s Global Commerce division.
“The project would not have happened without the tremendous relationships we have with the local Pratt & Whitney leadership team here in Columbus, as well as those at both Pratt & Whitney and United Technologies Corporation in Connecticut,” Chamber President and CEO Brian Anderson said in a statement.
Pratt & Whitney is headquartered in East Hartford, Conn., while United Technologies is based in Farmington, Conn. Aside from Pratt, its businesses include Otis Elevator Co., UTC Aerospace Systems, UTC Climate, Controls & Security, and Carrier, the heating and air conditioning equipment manufacturer.
PRATT & WHITNEY’S COLUMBUS PLANT
▪ 965,650 square feet of floor space
▪ 781,000 square feet of production space
▪ Operations encompass about 330 acres
▪ More than 1,200 employees are spread across three sites
▪ Facilities and services areas of the plant have gone 20 years without a lost-time accident and has received the “Best Industrial Pre-Treatment Plant of the Year Award” from the Georgia Association of Water Professionals