COLUMBUS, Ga. — A historic announcement by Gov. Nathan Deal now opens the door for more than 500 new jobs to pour into Columbus. The aerospace manufacturing jobs will be based locally at Pratt & Whitney.
The city of Columbus, as well as educational and business leaders are preparing the local workforce to take advantage. Will Maness is less than a year removed from graduating high school at Northside. During his last few months in high school, Maness worked as an intern at Pratt & Whitney. He says while the work can be challenging, he never would have thought about following a career in manufacturing.
“I didn’t really know I had an interest until I got out there and got my hands dirty,” Maness said. “It’s a lot to learn. There’s something new everyday. There’s not any task that I do that’s monotonous.”
Columbus Technical College President Lorette Hoover says the school is constantly grooming the next generation for future job opportunities.
“I think most people don’t know what a manufacturer looks like that’s involved in aerospace,” Hoover explained. “Advanced manufacturer and high paying jobs like at Pratt & Whitney, require more than a high school diploma, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree.”
But technical skills and knowledge in manufacturing are a must for success, Hoover said. Pratt & Whitney will invest $386 million into expansion, so a growing local workforce must now meet the demand of the more than 500 available jobs. Pratt & Whitney will use the jobs to produce the PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) engine, which will aviation and set new standards in the aerospace industry.According to officials, the GTF engine improves fuel efficiency by 16%, reduces regulated emissions by 50%, and cuts the noise footprint by 75% compared to contemporary engines. Currently, P&W has more than 80 customers in 30 countries for the GTF engine.
P&W hopes to double engine production by 2020. the expansion comes as the company is investing more than $1.3 billion overall because of the increased production demand.
Hoover underscored the importance of the expansion happening now, but the effects will be seen over time.
Move on When Ready makes sure high school students get early exposure to all sorts of manufacturing jobs. Now, the Columbus Tech Training Center will be able to teach more students at the college and secondary levels the skills necessary to compete for those types of jobs.
City and business leaders call manufacturing the backbone of a local economy.
“The backbone of the backbone is having that talent that will come into manufacturing and fill these jobs that keep us competitive here in Columbus,” General Manager of the Columbus Engine Center Tom Bode said.
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says the city still feels the effects of last decade’s recession. She believes Columbus can forge an identity as more than just a military town. She believes Pratt & Whitney’s expansion can help the city define itself as a manufacturing-friendly city. The mayor says positive growth comes at a cost though. The city invested the last decade funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into getting blight and crime out of certain sectors of the city so more business could come to the Fountain City.
“All of those little small steps that we have taken have been with a broad long range plan to completely remake and re-fortify Columbus, Georgia,” Mayor Tomlinson said.
As a full-time Pratt & Whitney employee now, Will Maness sees a bright future for himself and the city
“It’s somewhere I can see myself for the rest of my life,” Maness said.
For more information on how to get involved with the local manufacturing push, contact Tim Vinson at 706-527-9156 or Jamie Loyd, the Vice President of Economic Development at Columbus Tech, at 706-649-1449.