GE Appliances plans to open a “co-creation” space in Stamford that it says will serve as a mini-factory, makerspace and point of contact for customers and students.
In a statement, company officials said the center will open next year inside a 67,000-square-foot industrial facility in Stamford’s Harbor Point neighborhood. About 25 people will be employed there initially.
The space is expected to serve several functions, including as a “microfactory” focused on small-batch production of certain small appliances, including custom-ordered pieces. Under the same roof will be a co-working space, designed to encourage collaboration in the realm of home appliances.
GE Appliances also plans to open a showroom at the site that will allow potential customers to provide feedback on their offerings.
The announcement drew strong praise from state economic development officials and from Gov. Ned Lamont, who said GE Appliances’s investment in the region shows Connecticut is rehabilitating its image among corporations that once considered the state too expensive and unfriendly to business interests.
“Today is a landmark day, as we welcome GE Appliances back to Connecticut,” Lamont said. “We couldn’t be happier to see this center — dedicated to innovation, education and inspiration — call the city of Stamford home. It’s indicative and validating of our efforts across the state to create environments where ideas thrive and the future is realized.”
Officials with GE Appliances said the Stamford site will also work to engage students through co-op partnerships and other hands-on learning opportunities. The company said it is partnering with the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system to reach students in the engineering, manufacturing, technology and business fields.
“This is precisely the kind of vital initiative that UConn is always seeking to pursue on behalf of our state and region, in which the core mission of academia is joined to the innovation of the private sector,” said University of Connecticut Interim President Andrew Agwunobi. “It’s an especially good fit given the long history of collaboration between industry partners and the UConn School of Engineering under the leadership of Dean Kazem Kazerounian, and the close ties the school has with GE Appliances.”
GE Appliances is a division of Haier, a Chinese multinational home appliances and consumer electronics company that purchased the business from General Electric in 2016. It manufactures and sells appliances such as coffee-makers, toasters, toaster ovens, blenders and food processors.
The same year it sold its appliances unit, General Electric moved its corporate headquarters from Fairfield to Boston, one of a series of such relocations that spread panic in the state’s business community and prompted criticism of the state’s business retention and recruitment efforts.