WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — GE Power & Water said it will stop manufacturing gas engines in Wisconsin and move the work to Canada, meaning the loss of 350 jobs in a Milwaukee suburb, because the U.S. Congress has failed to reauthorize the Export-Import bank.
The plant in Waukesha, Wisconsin builds engines for power generation applications. GE said it plans to build a $265 million factory in Canada over the next 20 months, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1h3XeWC ) reported.
GE blames Congress for failing to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank that finances sales of industrial equipment.
"We believe in American manufacturing, but our customers in many cases require Export Credit Agencies financing for us to bid on projects. Without it, we cannot compete and our customers may be forced to select other providers. We know these announcements will have regrettable impact not only on our employees but on the hundreds of U.S. suppliers we work with that cannot move their facilities, but we cannot walk away from our customers," GE vice chairman John Rice said in a statement.
Rice said the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company continues to urge Congress to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank for all American companies.
"However, we must prepare for the worst case and arrange export finance outside the U.S. Unfortunately, this will come at the expense of American jobs. In a slow growth and volatile world, we must go where the markets are and compete in over 170 countries," Rice said.
GE said the plant closure will be take place over the next 20 months, in phases, and that its decision will not be reversed.
GE Power & Water is headquartered in Schenectady, New York. Most of the 350 Waukesha manufacturing employees are represented by the International Association of Machinists.
Union spokesman Frank Larkin said the U.S. Export-Import Bank "was one of those rare government programs that worked as intended; it protected American jobs and returned a profit to the U.S. Treasury. Killing the bank means thousands of U.S. jobs will be needlessly sacrificed for an extreme political agenda."
Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said he hopes a solution can be reached to retain those jobs.
"My hope is that this is not a final decision and I will be able to work with General Electric and our state and federal partners to retain those important jobs here," Reilly said in a statement.
The 81-year-old U.S. Export-Import Bank provides loans, credit guarantees and insurance to aid sales by U.S. companies. The bank's charter expired June 30 when Republican members of Congress, who say the bank benefits only a few large corporations that don't need government assistance, blocked a reauthorization vote.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com