GE Relocates HQ from Suburban Connecticut to Boston

GE is abandoning its 68-acre suburban campus in Fairfield, Conn. for Boston's Seaport District. As WBUR's technology reporter, Curt Nickisch put it, "Today's knowledge workers want bike racks and subway stops not country clubs and parking garages."
January 17, 2016, 1pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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Scott Simon, host of NPR's "weekend edition saturday," explains that the move relates to GE's "sale of its appliance group (and) recent shift to selling services and sophisticated goods like jet engines and power turbines instead of household goods."

The company announced on Wednesday (Jan. 13) that it will be moving its headquarters from its sprawling, 68-acre campus in Fairfield, Conn., 50 miles outside of New York City, to Boston, starting this summer.

[Correspondent's note: Readers may wish to listen to the audio to get a better idea as to why GE is moving.]

To get an idea of the workers GE hopes to attract, Nickisch visits a small, growing tech company in Boston.

"(The employees) leave at reasonable hours [so] that they can go do things that are important to them, whether it's having dinner with friends, going to the gym, what have you," states the chief operating officer of Boston startup EverTrue, and the only employee over 30 in a room full of workers. They tend to get back online later on at night because we have a lot of work to do as well. They're just really, really ambitious, young go-getters."

"GE’s decision to move its corporate headquarters to Boston is part of a larger business trend of leaving the suburbs for the city," writes Nickisch in the WBUR version of this report.

"Labor market economist Enrico Moretti at UC Berkeley says GE's move is reversing an old trend," writes Nickisch. "Companies left troubled cities in the '70s and '80s for manicured suburban office parks. Now they're moving back into revitalized urban centers."

Moretti is also quoted in a 2013 Wall Street Journal article (posted here) on cities leaving the suburbs for the cities.

Nickisch conclude on WBUR that the move sends a message to other companies based in the suburbs that may be considering "back to the city" moves:

If corporate managers haven’t noticed yet, they will now. General Electric has been able to stay an industrial giant for more than a century by changing with the times. Its move to Boston shows where it thinks the future will be made.

In its "Cognoscenti" section, Susan E. Reed takes a deeper look into GE's relocation—what it means for GE and Boston.

Boston is not the only city where GE has relocated. Posts last year and in 2014 describe the company's recent investments in downtown Cincinnati.

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Published on Saturday, January 16, 2016 in NPR
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