After Three-Year Search, GE Chooses Boston for New Corporate Headquarters

by John Nelson

BOSTON — GE (NYSE: GE) has selected Boston for its corporate headquarters location. The global tech and industrial giant has been considering the relocation of its headquarters from Fairfield, Conn., for more than three years. The company began its formal review in June 2015, with a list of 40 potential locations. Boston was selected after evaluating the business ecosystem, talent, long-term costs, quality of life for employees, connections with the world and proximity to other important company assets.

“GE aspires to be the most competitive company in the world,” says Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE. “Today, GE is a $130 billion high-tech global industrial company, one that is leading the digital transformation of industry. We want to be at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations. Greater Boston is home to 55 colleges and universities. Massachusetts spends more on research and development than any other region in the world, and Boston attracts a diverse, technologically fluent workforce focused on solving challenges for the world. We are excited to bring our headquarters to this dynamic and creative city.”

The headquarters will be located in the Seaport District of Boston. Employees will move to a temporary location in Boston starting in the summer of 2016, with a full move completed in several steps by 2018. GE will host a public briefing in Boston with government officials, and business and community leaders, on Feb. 18.

There is no material financial impact to GE related to the cost of the move. Massachusetts and the city of Boston structured a package of incentives for GE that provides benefits to the state and city, while also helping offset the costs of the relocation. GE will sell its offices in Fairfield and at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City to further offset the cost of the move.

The Boston headquarters will have roughly 800 people — 200 from corporate staff and 600 digital industrial product managers, designers and developers split between the company’s platforms, including GE Digital, Current, robotics and Life Sciences. A GE Digital Foundry will be created for co-creation, incubation and product development with customers, startups and partners. The remainder of administration will be placed in shared service operations throughout the company.

“At the end of the day, this relocation was driven by human capital considerations,” says Mark Stewart, senior vice president and branch manager of Savills Studley’s Boston office. “By distributing shared services administrative functions across the organization, GE appears to have chosen to reimagine its headquarters not as an administrative control center, but as a beehive of digital leadership and innovation. Boston is an ideal home for such activities; given the Commonwealth’s thickly woven threads of education, demographics, technology, innovation and global trade impulses.”

GE has nearly 5,000 employees across Massachusetts in businesses including aviation, oil and gas and energy management. In 2014, GE moved its Life Sciences headquarters to Marlborough, and in 2015 GE announced its energy services start-up, Current, would also be headquartered in Boston.

GE’s stock price closed Wednesday, Jan. 13 at $28.24 per share, up from $23.78 per share at this time last year.

— John Nelson

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