GE moving headquarters to Boston to tap tech talent

After Connecticut chose to raise taxes on large multinational companies, GE a year ago said it would explore moving its headquarters from Fairfield, reportedly sparking a bidding war between Connecticut and several other states last summer.

The area is crowded with 55 colleges and universities, including research centers like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and Northeastern University.

Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said GE, one of the best known companies in corporate America, wants to be "at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations".

Immelt said GE has been considering the move for more than three years and began with a list of 40 potential locations.

It said it already employs almost 5,000 people across MA, in various businesses including aviation and energy.

It said it also would sell its offices in Fairfield and at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in NY to help offset the cost of the move.

The announcement Wednesday that General Electric will move its headquarters to Boston, rather than NY, has been characterized as a blow to the Empire State, and to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in particular. A full move is expected to be completed by 2018.

But apart from the fact that GE is famous for avoiding corporate tax payments, there's one Boston-area case from the past decade that shows just how aggressive the company's tax strategy can get.

The specifics on which GE employees will move where have not yet been made public.

CT lobbied General Electric to stay put, but by early this week Gov. Dannel P. Malloy seemed resigned to GE making a change.

In December, the state legislature also approved reductions to business taxes such as the so-called unitary corporate tax that affects companies with headquarters in the state and restructured tax exemptions for firms that have revenue losses.

About 800 people will be based at the headquarters of Boston. But it's not totally clear what happens to the 600 other CT employees.

Those workers, spread among the company's GE Digital, Current, robotics and life sciences divisions, will share technology developments across business units, GE said, helping develop software to run the machinery the company manufacturers.

"Reports that CT officials intend to raise taxes by another $750 million are truly discouraging", GE officials said in a statement. "In addition to adding hundreds of high-paying jobs to our state, we look forward to partnering with GE to achieve further growth across a spectrum of industries and are confident GE will flourish in the Commonwealth's inventive economy". CT will be sad to see the company go; Goverrner Daniel Malloy said of the move, "Taken as a whole, there is no denying that CT has had more good days than days like today".

Which isn't nothing, but keep in mind that on Wednesday GE also announced that it would cut up to 6,500 jobs in Europe over the next two years.

The company has been conducting a nationwide search for a new headquarters since last summer when it announced a year ago that it was unhappy in with Connecticut's tax policies. The only obvious drawback to GE's choice is that the top brass may need to leave their New York Yankees caps behind.

GE settled on Boston after being offered a massive package of tax breaks and incentives.

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