General Electrics investment in Boston grew stronger on Monday April 4th with an announcement that the GE Foundation will donate $50 million dollars to be split over the next five years among Boston public schools, health care centers and local small business outreach and workforce programs in the underserved metro area. The particular focus in the public schools will be building up STEM, computer resources and career labs, which can help students who may wish to pursue technical careers. There will be a big push to improve technical high schools across the state and the country in order to position students to succeed in the next generation of manufacturing. GE Garages, a worldwide traveling hands on collaboration of local innovators and GE employees, will be helpful to implement the companys message of utilizing the collaborative spirit that drew them to move to Boston.
An informational session was held at The State Room in Boston shortly after the philanthropic announcement was made. CEO Jeff Immelt praised the entrepreneurial and educational atmosphere of Massachusetts. He added that the plans for the new 300,000 square foot space they will occupy on Necco Street in the Seaport will include a very open and accessible environment. He foresees having 200 of top management surrounded by labs and inviting the public to come in and be involved with innovation. The company will invest $100 million in the building which will include renovating 2 existing structures, however the property will be owned by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. When questioned about how long GE plans to stay in the city, Immelt stressed the investment being made in the physical space as well as in the community by employees and the GE Foundation. He hopes they can be a convener and bring together innovation, academics and manufacturing.
Many members of the companys leadership were in attendance at the session to demonstrate GEs enthusiasm for heading north from their Fairfield, CT headquarters. Immelt estimates that 4,000 new jobs will be created as a result of the move and $1 billion dollars could be injected into the states economy. Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh were also featured speakers and had many of the city and states elected representatives present, including Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.
Baker spoke of the great joint effort between the Mayor and the State to bring GE to Massachusetts. He also shared that this is not just another business development win, saying that the ecosystem of education and entrepreneurialism paired with the forward thinking economy are an ideal fit with the growth goals of GE. Mayor Walsh added that Boston is rising to the top of the innovation economy.? He also was greatly appreciative of the support for the citys high schools and health centers.
Both the Mayor and the Governor stated that they really didnt make too many major financial concessions to lure the company to Massachusetts and that they were sure other states had promised better deals. Immelt basically confirmed this and reiterated that the decision to move here was not just based on the tax incentives but really involved the potential for success Boston could offer. GE will move into temporary space in Boston while renovations get underway on Necco Street. Immelt said their 800 employees will start infesting the city in August 2016.
Watch the entire Press Conference