GE Unveils Customer Innovation Center - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

GE Unveils Customer Innovation Center

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GE's new Customer Innovation Center is open for business. It's a major expansion and upgrade of the former GE learning center.  WICU/WSEE took an exclusive tour of the facility and it is impressive.  The changes represent a 25 million dollar investment.  It is one big piece of the 140 million dollars in upgrades at the Erie plant. Company officials say the investment shows GE's commitment to Erie.

The facility is a real show place for GE's products and technology.  In the atrium you can see the size and scope of GE products and with a touch of your finger on a screen, learn about how they are used in multiple industries.

But it's not just form, it's functional with state of the art connected classrooms and lab space that's big enough to house four locomotives plus engines and equipment.

GE is a global company, with customers visiting from all over the world.  They often want to tour the plant but in this space they have hands-on opportunity to touch the products and collaborate on development.  GE Transportation Vice President, Tina Donikowski said, "I think they will still do both, to some customers it's very important to see our manufacturing flow. They'll still want to do that, to travel to Grove City to see how our engines are built, but with a classroom environment where they can think about something, learn about it and touch it at the same time makes for a great learning experience."

The design of the building looks like a locomotive round house, and the track runs right into the building. And there's a new employee entrance, cafeteria and dining room.  The offices of GE's communication and marketing departments are in the new building.  The human resources department has spaces to interview job candidates in a building where they can also showcase GE products and technology.

So how important is a space like this when it comes to attracting new business?  Donikowski says very important.  It's a space where GE can show customers that it's a technology leader and that's where she says the company's future is brightest. GE is on time with its tier four emissions locomotive, required  by January 2015 and just last week, they rolled out Next Fuel, a dual - fuel engine that can run on diesel or liquid natural gas. "We want to bring the new technology forward so that can help spur demand," said Donikowski. "I would say to you it's a tough market out there right now and we're doing everything we can to go after every single order."

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