A look back at General Electric’s rich history

The first GE building was built on West Superior.  It was originally part of Jenney Electric.
The first GE building was built on West Superior. It was originally part of Jenney Electric.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - A fixture in Fort Wayne and formerly one of the city’s biggest employers announced it has plans to move out of town.  NewsChannel 15 first told you Tuesday about General Electric’s plans to shut down operations after more than 100 years here.  Now, we’re taking a look back at the company’s rich history here and how it’s benefited the city.

General Electric was a company that put thousands to work for quite some time until the late 60s.

It all started after the company bought Jenney Electric here in Fort Wayne in September of 1893.  G.E. had more than 10,000 employees.  From 1930 to 1940, G.E. became one of the largest producers of specialty transformers and motors.
During World War II, the facility here in Fort Wayne was a powerhouse supplier of superchargers for military aircraft.  Something they were recognized for.  Fort Wayne G.E. retiree Tom Jewel said G.E. put so many people to work back then if someone in your family didn’t work for G.E. then you had a friend or neighbor who did.  Jewel said he started working for the company in 1969.  Prior to that his grandfather, father and mother all did.  Since 1969, Jewel said there had always been talk the plant would close.  But now that it appears G.E. will pull the plug soon.

“We knew this day was coming for quite some time. So, it’s not really a shock, but it’s still sad because the next generation and the generation after that – where are the young people going to work? You could come here with just a high school education,” G.E. Retiree Tom Jewel said.

Jewel said young people even without a high school diploma could work there and earn an honest living.  He said the company would also pay for employees to finish and also go to college as long as they got a C or better.  According to a News-Sentinel article published June 19, 1926, G.E. officials urged employees to better themselves by finishing high school and/or going to college.  For those who were not interested in college, they would have the opportunity to learn a new skill/trade.

PHOTO GALLERY:  A History of GE in Fort Wayne

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