Updated Fri, Aug 23, 2013 12:34 pm
The future is looking brighter for the Circleville lamp plant as GE Lighting announced Thursday that it will be adding 50 local jobs to help meet growing demand for its energy-efficient bulbs.
The Circleville plant is one of three that will start producing GE Energy-Efficient Soft White bulbs as part of an agreement between GE Lighting and Walmart to put more American-made products on Walmart shelves. Factories in Bucyrus and Mattoon, Ill., will also add 100 jobs between them.
The company said it is investing $30 million to increase domestic production of the energy-efficient bulbs as incandescent bulbs are phased out through federally mandated energy-efficiency requirements.Employees at the Circleville plant welcomed the news that they will be responsible for a new product since demand for its fluorescent bulbs has decreased in recent years, causing layoffs.
“Because the consumer is going toward a more efficient product, our volume over the past few years has gone down,” said Stephen Killion, plant manager. “This year we had our first real reduction in force in a long time so this will get everybody who [was laid off] back in the plant.”
The company is also accepting applications for new employees at Jobs OneStop through August 27. Killion said they will be hiring new full-time mechanics and employees for operating, packing lamps and handling materials for both the new line and the existing line.
He expects all positions to be filled by March 2014.
“This is a great opportunity for GE and Circleville,” said 22-year employee Mark Poling, of Laurelville. “It made my day because we haven’t had any new products in here for 10 to 12 years. It just helps secure everyone’s jobs here and opens up a window for a lot more opportunities.”
Bonnie Ragland, who has also worked at the plant for 22 years, said she was concerned about the future of the plant at one time, but this news puts her at ease.
“I know things go down and they get back up,” she said. “It’s gotten back up now and it’s great that they’re bringing the jobs to Circleville.”
The announcement is one of many positive economic signs the county has seen over the past few years, noted Ryan Scribner, P3 director, who worked with JobsOhio on the expansion.
“This really just continues the trend that we’ve seen with manufacturing here in Pickaway County,” he said. “We’ve had significant plant expansions multiple years in a row with DuPont, Aleris, FPE and others that are growing. It’s a sign that we’re doing things right in Pickaway County.”
“The addition of 50 new jobs is huge in this community,” said Don McIlroy, Circleville mayor. “I hope this is just the beginning of a domino effect that will allow us to make more announcements like this very, very soon.”
“GE is the only manufacturing plant in the Circleville city limits with the exception of Healthcare Logistics,” he added. “To take one of our plants and add 50 jobs is a tremendous step forward.”
The lamp plant, located on Ohio Street, first opened in 1948. It currently employees 219 people.