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Kathy McCabe | Business Notebook

Jet engine demand soaring at GE plant

Lynn factory struggles, however, to deal with rise in materials' cost

Email|Print| Text size + By Kathy McCabe
February 3, 2008

Strong demand for jet engines helped to propel General Electric Co. to a 15 percent profit increase in the fourth quarter, the company recently reported.

In Lynn, where GE employs 3,200 at its aircraft engine plant, the news is mixed, however. Orders for both military and commercial jets are strong. But the high cost of materials, particularly uranium and titanium, means the plant will have to lower costs to maintain profit margins, a spokesman said.

"It's an interesting dichotomy," said Rich Gorham, GE's spokesman in Lynn. "In terms of orders, all the engines in GE's portfolio are fairly strong. The order book is maxed out for the next several years. That's a good thing."

"But on the flip side, we have a pretty significant cost pressure to deal with. There is a major emphasis on getting costs out of our products," he said.

The plant's major engine lines are the T700 for military aircraft and the CF-34 for small commercial jetliners.

The GE 38, a new helicopter engine line, will start development at the plant this year. Testing could begin next year, Gorham said.

Sikorsky Aircraft recently selected the engine to power the CH 53E, the largest helicopter used by the US marines.

"It's a good program that will primarily be housed here in Lynn," Gorham said. "We're going to ramp up production on it."

It's not clear if any new jobs will be added to the plant, where union ranks have thinned with a wave of retirements, an official said.

"We're hoping for some more hiring," said Ric Casilli, business manager for IUE-Local 201, the largest union at the plant. "That's a heavy-duty helicopter engine that will be here for years to come. . . . We're going to need people."

Shore cities, towns receive state funds
How does a coastal community survive the winter blues?

Start spending more than $2 million in state money to fix old sea walls, dredge harbors, and build new wharves and a ferry terminal.

Gloucester, Lynn, Marblehead, Newburyport, Salem, and Rockport each have different plans to spend their share of funding awarded by the state's Seaport Advisory Council.

"They're ambitious projects," Rick Armstrong, the council's executive director, said in a recent interview. "The funding is very competitive, but one thing we've been lucky on is that when it comes to making funding decisions, the council works together."

The council, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, sets maritime policy for the state's seaports. The council met in December in Lynn, where it voted to fund $5 million in capital improvement projects statewide. A half-dozen local communities collectively received more than $2 million. Gloucester received the most funding, with $850,000 for a harbor transportation plan and wharf construction.

Other awards included $400,000 for Marblehead's multimillion-dollar project to rebuild a sea wall along Devereaux Beach. Salem will use $280,000 to dredge the South River and pay for permitting and engineering for a new wharf off Blaney Street. Lynn received $750,000 to plan for a new ferry terminal on Blossom Street, off the Lynnway. Newburyport received $450,000 to help extend its harborwalk. Rockport will use $220,000 to dredge its old harbor.

"We want to get going," Michael Racicot, the Rockport town administrator, said recently. "We want to have a plan in place, so that we can make repairs, move forward, and keep our harbors vital."

Makeup advice gained from a pro
Teens from Girls' Inc., a youth organization in Lynn, dropped by the new LuxeBeautiQue in Swampscott for some tips from a makeup artist for the New England Patriots cheerleaders and her Hollywood friend.

Amy DePerrior, the boutique owner, has been the makeup artist for the New England Patriots cheerleaders for three years in a row for their swimsuit calendar. She opened a cosmetics studio and spa on Humphrey Street last September. DePerrior grew up in Lynn, where her friends included Keisha Whitaker, a mother of three and former model, who is married to actor Forest Whitaker. Keisha Whitaker, 35, chose her friend's boutique for the New England launch of Kissable Couture, her new lip gloss. The old friends engaged in a girl-power talk with about a dozen Girls Inc. teens.

Datebook
The Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce on Saturday will present an OSHA Seminar for Tradespeople 7 a.m.-5 p.m., at The Gloucester House Restaurant, 63 Rogers St. The workshop will focus on safety training for contractors to obtain an OSHA 10 certificate, which many states require for doing business within them. For information or to register, call the chamber at 978-283-1601 or send an e-mail to info@CapeAnnChamber.com.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com.

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