CEO praises Trump, claims tax reform made them invest in Charlotte. Here’s the truth.
Updated: January 29, 2018 at 7:52 pm
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By Katherine Peralta, The Charlotte Observer
Siemens put Charlotte in the international spotlight last week when its CEO told President Donald Trump that the company decided to develop its next generation of gas turbines in Charlotte thanks to Trump’s tax reform.
But the German manufacturer’s announcement about testing HL-class turbines was made in August, pre-dating the tax reform bill by over three months. Additionally, Siemens’ turbine announcement won’t add new jobs in Charlotte.
The announcement also doesn’t mean that manufacturing work is moving to Charlotte from overseas, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak on the record.
Siemens employs about 1,650 at its Westinghouse Boulevard plant in Charlotte, where workers make steam turbines and electrical generators for energy firms.
Siemen’s Charlotte location came up during a dinner Trump held with business figures at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to reports.
“Since you have been successful with the tax reform, we decided to develop the next generation of gas turbines in the United States,” Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said at the gathering.
“Oh that’s a big thing. That’s very big. Where will that be developed?” Trump said.
Charlotte, Kaeser responded.
“Great. That’s fantastic. Well thank you, on behalf of Charlotte. Thank you very much. And our country,” Trump said.
Politico reported last week that Kaeser had “overstated” the case, and that Siemens is testing, or “validating” the turbines in Charlotte, not developing them here.
A Siemens spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Siemens said last fall that it will be cutting about 6,900 jobs worldwide, including 1,800 in the U.S., over the next several years to cut costs. The decision came a month after Siemens laid off “a small number” of workers in Charlotte because of a downturn in the global energy market.
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