New York’s Center for Economic Growth handed out the Annual Technology Innovation Awards yesterday. It recognized GE as one of the six innovative companies and people who contributed to “robust and viable future” of the region surrounding New York’s capital, Albany, last year. The prize is local, but the impact of GE’s New York workers can be felt everywhere.
GE has deep roots in upstate New York. Thomas Edison moved the company’s machine works to Schenectady in 1886, and GE opened its Global Research labs nearby in 1900. Early visitors included Nobel winners such as radio telegraph inventor Guglielmo Marconi, Niels Bohr, who cracked the structure of the atom, and I.P. Pavlov famous for his conditioned dogs.
The region remains a critical hub for research, innovation and manufacturing, supporting GE businesses and customers in the U.S. and around the world. For example, GE Energy engineers in Schenectady recently helped design an innovative power plant in Wuhan, China, and are building a steam turbine generator for a power station near Seoul, Korea.
In June 2009, GE Healthcare opened a $165 million plant at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Tech Park in North Greenbush, where workers manufacture digital X-ray detectors. A $100 million high-tech battery manufacturing plant launched production in 2012 in Schenectady.
Both technologies were developed at GE Global Research, which has gone through its own $150 million upgrade. “Rather than pare back our investments in new technology during the recession, GE doubled down on its commitment, which allowed us to expand our manufacturing base here in the Capital Region and add 1,400 local jobs over the last three years,” said Mark Little, GE chief technology officer.
The new growth also helped put the area on the map last year as the metropolitan region with the highest concentration of clean-tech jobs in the nation, according to the Brookings Institution.
But the company’s impact goes beyond innovation and the economy. Last year, GE employees volunteered 57,000 hours of community service and donated more than $5 million to support education, healthcare and community services in the area. Little says that “GE’s investments in technology have helped to establish new roots in the Capital Region and started an exciting new chapter in the company’s proud heritage here.”
Says Little: “Like the 20th century before, the 21st century promises to be one where GE and the Capital Region will continue to be at the center of major innovations that transform how people live.”