SOUTH BOSTON (CBS) — Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh joined General Electric’s CEO Jeff Immelt and head of Boston development Ann Klee Monday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony for GE’s new Boston headquarters, at what’s being called “Innovation Point.”
The leaders gathered at the future site of the company’s “urban campus,” a 2.5-acre property on Necco Street in Boston’s Seaport District, where 800 GE employees will work.
“This is a big day and a big statement, and one more step forward in the continuing evolution of Massachusetts as a global player on so many fronts and in so many ways,” Gov. Baker told the crowd at the site.
“We’re also going to be able to use this company as another attraction point in the City of Boston, so people will continue to come here and design their careers and have their careers in our city,” said Mayor Walsh. “Innovators from around the world will be flocking to this site.”
Immelt said GE was in Boston and planning to stay there for the long term.
“This is not a year or two decision, or a month or a quarter,” he said. “This is a decades, 50-year decision that we’ve made.”
As part of the effort to woo General Electric, state infrastructure grants were promised–with Boston offering millions in property tax relief over two decades.
UMass Dartmouth Public Policy professor Michael Goodman told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker it was a good deal.
“It is a substantial investment, but I think if we think about this in the long term, I think it is a wise investment for the state,” he said.
GE is also pledging to invest in the state, committing $25 million to Boston Public Schools and access to tech labs–like the one where 200 Boston English School students learned to use 3D printers and laser cutters.
“This site is going to increase taxes for the city of Boston over 25 years by a projected $67 million,” Walsh said.
But not all agree–and outside the groundbreaking, a few protesters were present, blocked by a fence.
Eli Gerzon, with the Make GE Pay coalition, told Parker he’s opposed to the use of public money and tax incentives to bring GE here.
“People need affordable housing, truly affordable housing, and yet GE, one of the most profitable corporations in the world, is getting our money,” he said. “It’s wrong.”
More than $120 million in state grants will help the site’s development, and the city is giving GE a $25 million tax break.
“The so-called economic comeback is not really helping the average person,” said Gerzon. “What we need instead is to charge corporations more, and charge them what they actually owe.”
The complex will involve two buildings that were once part of the New England Confectionary Company, which will be renovated over the next year and opened in 2018. Another 12-story building will be finished in 2019.
GE also announced Monday they had picked Consigli Construction to restore and renovate those two former NECCO buildings, built in 1907. Consigli CEO Anthony Consigli attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
“We’re proud to be part of a project and working for a company that are so important to the future of the region’s economy,” Consigli said in a release Monday. “We look forward to creating space that will serve the needs of GE’s 800 employees, host first-of-its-kind educational and community programs, and provide greater public access to the waterfront.”
GE has been operating out of a temporary space since making the decision to move their world headquarters to Boston from Connecticut last year.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports