General Electric Co., one of the country's largest conglomerates, launched a four-day conference about ways to spur the American economy by promising to hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years.
The declaration is one of many that GE made Monday as it began welcoming senators, mayors, governors and executives from companies such as Boeing Co., Dow Chemical Co. and Google Inc. to its Washington confab.
As part of the hiring initiative, the Fairfield, Conn., company pledged to join with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to train veterans in 50 cities. Going beyond that, GE said, it also would add 400 new aviation manufacturing positions over the next three years.
The company said it would invest $580 million to increase its domestic aviation capabilities this year. And next year, it said, it would open three new aviation factories — in Mississippi, Alabama and Ohio.
The company will add to its staff of more than 19,000 engineers by doubling the size of its engineering internship program to more than 5,000 spots. GE hires about 80% of its engineers from its internship pool.
"American business can compete and win anywhere," GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt said Monday.
Immelt chairs President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which includes as members the chief executives of Xerox Corp., Southwest Airlines Co. and Procter & Gamble Co. One of the council's initiatives is to boost the number of engineering graduates in the country to 10,000 a year.
GE shares gained 19 cents, or 1%, to $19.07 on Monday.