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Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 11:30am

Mitsubishi Ships First US Made Turbine

Japanese electrical giant Mitsubishi Power celebrated the shipment of its first ever American-made gas turbine.

While the large electrical generator is bound for Virginia, it promises to light up employment on the coast.

The machine's unveiling, in a behemoth factory, had all the trappings of a big Hollywood film debut, including strobe lights, confetti and a curtain raising.

Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas President Koji Hasagawa pressed a button that lifted the veil on the shrink-wrapped turbine, the size and shape of a NASA rocket.

"We proudly celebrate the first commercial gas turbine that will be shipped from Savannah machinery works," says Hasegawa.

Hundreds of uniformed floor workers crowded beneath the flag draped turbine and waved their own Old Glories for pictures taken from a lift basket high above.

The company's Vice President for Manufacturing, Jim Williams, says the massive turbine, sitting on a rail car behind him, will chug off to Virginia, where Dominion Power plans to buy four-more to generate electricity.

"It's about 365 tons -- very, very heavy," says Williams. "And it'll produce power for about one million people."

Assembly worker Kevin Ryan beamed with pride.

"It's one of a kind, I'll tell you," says Ryan. "It was a lot of hours put in by a lot of guys, a lot of sacrifices, not seeing the family. But the end product looks pretty good."

Mitsubishi Power announced its turbine-making plant in Pooler near Savannah three years ago, quickly ramping up hiring to about 350 current employees.

Company officials are planning to have 500 workers in four years.

Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb says that makes the shipment about more than a machine.

"And they bring not just regular jobs," says Lamb. "They bring high-paying jobs and we appreciate that very much, too."

A decade ago, the industrial site where Mitsubishi Power sits was cleared for an auto plant that promised thousands of manufacturing jobs but never materialized.

This week, the coastal area finally got a delivery out of the so-called Pooler Megasite.

The company says it'll be the first of many.

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