Under The Hat: Erie's Mainstay - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under The Hat: Erie's Mainstay

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The fear was palpable, not that long ago, when industrial giant General Electric announced that it was building a new, state-of-the-art locomotive plant in Texas.

Wait a minute!

Building GE locomotives is what we do here in Erie; building a newer, more efficient plant in a right-to-work state like Texas could only mean one thing, at least to the corner barstool crowd.

That the end was near for Erie's largest employer and soon we would be just another manufacturing ghost town as companies flee the cold, tax- and union-heavy north for the warm, friendly climes of the American south.

But, just like Mark Twain is so often (and wrongfully) paraphrased:

The news of our demise may be premature.

I first started hearing from construction workers a few months back that the company is investing in a major overhaul of some of the office space, so much so that some of the staff would be moving off campus and could be gone as long as two years.

Those workers assure me that's not the behavior of a company looking to pull up stakes.

"I don't know," I thought. "I don't see a multi-billion dollar company getting overly concerned over a little carpet and dry wall."

But now comes word this week that the company is also looking to hire some 360 workers and invest 130 million dollars in equipment upgrades here.

Now THAT sounds like a company that isn't looking to pull up stakes soon.

We had heard that the rail companies still need locomotives but were holding off until the economy looked a little sunnier.

That means that the demand is pent up and not completely gone.

This week's announcement appears to be evidence that GE believes that the ice is thawing and the phone is ringing again for the company's mining and rail products.

Let's not be naïve.

Even as vast a sum as 130 million dollars may still be considered a short term investment to an operation the size of a GE.

No future is guaranteed.

But for now at least all signs are pointing to Erie's mainstay staying in Erie.

Sometimes victory must be measured not in what is won, but rather in what is not lost.


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