General Electric confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it will move its headquarters to Boston from Fairfield.
In a statement, CEO Jeff Immelt said:
GE aspires to be the most competitive company in the world. 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.
GE has been headquartered at a suburban campus in Fairfield for more than 40 years, but in the spring of 2015 said it was forming an exploratory committee to look into a move.
In what was then seen as an unprecedented intervention in the state's financial process, the company objected to the biennial budget the legislature produced in June, saying in a statement: "retroactively raising taxes again on Connecticut’s residents, businesses and services makes businesses, including our own, seriously consider whether it makes any sense to continue to be located in this state."
State Senator Tony Hwang, who represents Fairfield, called the announcement gut-wrenching.
"I want to reiterate my support for my neighbors, and small business and all the other non-profits and community that are so intertwined with GE," Hwang told WNPR. "This is real-life consequences that's going to devastate our community."
Joseph McGee of the Business Council of Fairfield County spoke with GE executives following the announcement this afternoon.
"They made it very clear to us that this is not about taxes. This is not about economic incentives," McGee said. "This is GE exiting the financial service business, which was based in Fairfield County, and they're now moving into a digital-industrial company."
But McGee said there is a silver lining.
"The northeast is still the place to be, if you want to innovate," McGee said. "Sad Connecticut lost, but New England did not lose, and that's an important story. This did not go to Atlanta, or Texas, or Arizona. It's in New England."
Governor Dannel Malloy staged a press conference at one of GE's key Connecticut suppliers, Pegasus Manufacturing in Middletown, to give his reaction to the news. "It hurts," the governor admitted. "Of course I'm disappointed. I know many in Connecticut share the disappointment and frustration. I did speak with Jeff Immelt this morning, and he confirmed that while their headquarters may be moving out of state, GE will continue to have many employees working here in Connecticut. Equally important, GE will continue to work with and support smaller businesses throughout our state."
The governor also released a statement on the GE news on Wednesday:
Today’s decision is a clear signal that Connecticut must continue to adapt to a changing business climate. Businesses care about transportation infrastructure, and we will continue to make new investments to create a more modern transportation future. Businesses care about talent, and we will continue our investments in our higher education system in order to connect them to the needs of high-tech employers. Businesses care about state government fostering new areas of innovation, and we will continue to invest in high-tech startups, small businesses, and major employers like United Technologies. And businesses care about how states budget, and now is the time to continue our bipartisan efforts to reform our budget, find new ways to pay our pensions, and create a more sustainable and predictable state budget.
Taken as a whole, there is no denying that Connecticut has had more good days than days like today. Of course we are disappointed, and we know that many in Connecticut share that frustration. While GE’s headquarters may be leaving, I have been assured that the company will continue to have many employees working here in Connecticut. Equally important, GE will continue to work with and support many smaller businesses throughout our state.
Over the past five years, Connecticut has partnered with 1,945 companies to create more than 19,900 new jobs and retain an additional 75,000 jobs. Now is the time to meet our challenges head on, work together, and find new innovative ways to meet them.