Sunday, May 26, 2024

Western: General Electric hires students from Pisgah High School

When Chip Singleton first heard General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt was stopping by for “a little meeting” in late April, the Pisgah High School teacher had no idea what was up. Immelt was in town for the Boston-based industrial manufacturer’s annual meeting at the GE Aviation plant in nearby Asheville. Turns out the CEO was coming by to drop off a $100,000 check for the school’s machining and metals department. It’s a drop in the bucket for GE, which has a market cap of more than $250 billion, but a nice surprise for the school in Canton, a town of about 4,200 located 20 miles west of GE’s plant. The school will use the money to replace older equipment.

A former employee of Smiths Aerospace — GE bought the United Kingdom-based company in 2007 for $4.8 billion — Singleton in 2005 helped a couple of his students get jobs at the local plant. Soon, the company called again asking for more. “To get them in early, we came up with the apprenticeship model,” Singleton says. Students learn to program machines like the ones the plant uses to make jet-engine parts. Each year, two to eight seniors work at the plant from noon to 6 p.m. daily. About 16% of the plant’s 420 employees have graduated from Pisgah High School, according to GE Aviation spokesman Nick Hurm.

GE employs nearly 5,000 people in the state and has provided more than $250 million to K-12 schools in the U.S. since 2005.

Pernicious pact?

Was Wicked Weed’s sale to Budweiser’s parent a savvy business deal or a total sellout? The Asheville brewer — popular ales include Lunatic Blonde and Pernicious IPA — will join the beer behemoth’s The High End lineup of craft and import beers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Reactions from the craft-beer community ranged from congratulatory to “how could you?” For years, craft brewers have questioned AB/InBev’s marketing and distribution practices, which they say blocks shelf space for smaller brands. Some bottle shops said they will no longer carry Wicked Weed products, while several breweries canceled partnerships with the 5-year-old company. Co-founder Walt Dickinson told the Raleigh News & Observer the Anheuser-Busch deal provides better access to ingredients and alleviates distribution headaches. “We’re in the same brewery working hard, and the beer isn’t going to change. It’s going to get better.”

MORGANTON — Continental will expand its local brake-manufacturing plant, investing more than $40 million and adding 160 jobs to its 400 over five years. The Germany-based company could receive more than $1.6 million in state grants if it meets hiring and investment goals.

LENOIR — Door and window-maker Ryan-AL will invest $1.7 million in a local plant, creating 53 jobs. The Diamond Bar, Calif.-based company is moving production from a plant in China. The new jobs will pay an average annual wage of $39,887, higher than Caldwell County’s $34,744.

ASHEVILLE — Southern Pines-based First Bancorp will acquire ASB Bancorp, parent of Asheville Savings Bank, for about $175 million. Asheville Savings Bank has 13 branches in western N.C. and assets of $803 million as of March 31. The acquisition will give First Bank’s parent company more than $5 billion in assets and more than 100 branches.

ASHEVILLE — Lynn Morton was named the eighth president of Warren Wilson College. Morton worked at Queens University in Charlotte for 27 years, most recently as provost and vice president for academic affairs. She succeeds Steven Solnick, who left to lead the Calhoun School in New York. Warren Wilson is a liberal arts college that enrolls about 700 students.

Cathy Martin
Cathy Martin
Cathy Martin is the managing editor at Business North Carolina magazine. She can be reached at

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