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Boston Left Waiting On GE’s 800-Job Promise

Boston Office
Rendering of GE's future campus in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood

General Electric has been a good corporate citizen since moving to Boston from Fairfield, Connecticut, in 2016, but the company’s ongoing shedding of assets could leave its new hometown waiting for jobs.

Ahead of its move to Boston in 2016, GE committed to donating $50M to local initiatives like Boston Public Schools and community health centers. The company has already donated $20M in its first two years here to causes like fighting the opioid epidemic and STEM-focused education in public schools, but it may take longer to achieve its 800-job commitment to Boston, the Boston Globe reports

GE said it would have 200 corporate staff members and 600 digital industrial employees at the Fort Point headquarters it broke ground on in May 2017. But things have changed since the morning of the groundbreaking when GE Vice President of Environment Health & Safety and Boston Development and Operations Ann Klee said, “This isn’t going to be your grandmother’s headquarters.”

GE has since seen a changing of the guard with the departure of then-CEO Jeff Immelt and the rise of new CEO John Flannery. The company’s stock has fallen more than 50% and off the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Flannery has significantly trimmed costs by divesting GE of some of its transportation, oil and gas business operations. 

Many of the 800 jobs GE promised it would have in Boston by 2025 were to come from its Current, Digital, life science and robotics divisions. Most of those divisions are either shrinking or getting spun out as the company moves to focus on three business units: aviation, power and healthcare.

Nearly 235 people work from GE’s interim headquarters in Fort Point, and the company is halfway through a 100K SF first phase of its planned $200M campus along Fort Point Channel. Flannery delayed the second phase, a 12-story waterfront building, in a move to cut costs. Boston’s $25M tax incentive is tied to the construction and the 800 jobs, but many in the city’s real estate community are less certain of the second phase moving forward. 

A company spokesperson maintained to the Globe and has previously told Bisnow the building will still open in 2021 and that the staggered construction timeline is to help ease construction costs.