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General Electric Specialty Control Plant, Waynesboro.

The GE plant was constructed in 1953-55, with an expansion in 1960, and covers over 25 acres along the South River in Waynesboro. The plant resulted from GE de-centralizing its northeast U.S. operations and was built for the engineering, design, and manufacture of cutting-edge electronics. Staff there were responsible for developing breakthrough technologies for military applications, space travel, and computers. The plant also manufactured equipment for commercial and military aircraft, relays that enabled communication between space vehicles and their command centers, and early computer equipment, among other products. The plant is notable as well for its former vice-president Dr. Louis T. Rader, a pioneer in computing technology. In the late 1950s, Rader used his influence as a widely respected business executive to help end Virginia’s policy of “massive resistance” to school desegregation. He toured the state as an advocate for reopening Virginia’s public schools, asserting that the state was risking economic prosperity by closing public schools to avoid integration. He even threatened to close Virginia’s GE plants if the policy persisted.