In early June 1969, General Electric announced the start of construction on a manufacturing and distribution plant in Columbia. In building the complex, GE became one of the first and largest employers to sign on to Columbia founder James Rouse's vision of a community where people could both live and work.
Appliance Park-East, as the new plant was known, was open for nearly 20 years. It was the largest private employer in Howard County, the Washington Post wrote in 1989, when GE announced its closure.
The plant was one of the earliest signals that the new planned community could work, said Pat Kennedy, former president of the Columbia Association.
"To many, Jim...