Massachusetts celebrated as corporate behemoth General Electric Co. announced plans on Wednesday to move its world headquarters to Boston from Fairfield, Conn.
Connecticut officials saw the news as a defeat and a wakeup call to change the business climate there.
"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," company chairman and chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said in a statement.
According to a statement from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, the commonwealth offered incentives up to $120 million through grants and other programs, while Boston offered up to $25 million in property tax relief.
Immelt cited Boston as home to 55 colleges and universities, the commonwealth's emphasis on research-and-development spending, and Boston's attraction to a tech-oriented workforce.
GE will relocate to Boston's Seaport District, adjacent to downtown. Employees will work at a temporary Boston location starting in the summer, with a full move completed in several steps by 2018.
"Our administration welcomes GE's decision to take advantage of the unique resources that our state has to offer," said Baker.
Additional incentives offered to GE included up to $1 million in grants for workforce training; up to $5 million for an innovation center to forge connections between GE, innovators from Massachusetts research institutions and higher education; and a commitment to improving local transportation in the Seaport District, which adjoins the South Station hub.
"Today's decision is a clear signal that Connecticut must continue to adapt to a changing business climate," a dejected Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement.
GE confirmed its wandering eyes in June while objecting to business taxes proposed during Connecticut's budget deliberations. Other corporate mainstays in the state, including insurers Aetna Inc. and Travelers Cos., expressed agita as did pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH.
Hartford, Conn.-based asset management firm Conning, in its State of the States ratings in November, ranked Connecticut 48th by economic indicators that included housing price index, population growth and tax revenue growth.
"It's the attitude of Hartford," said state Sen. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, referring to political leaders at the capitol. "It's been miserable for 25 years plus."
Frantz is a former chairman of the Connecticut Development Authority, the state's banking arm.
"I used to spend a lot of time talking to the business community [and] business decision makers throughout the entire state, and I got every single complaint that there is to get, for 13 years," said Frantz. "I know what the problem is, it's that the regulators and the lawmakers do not understand the business world and they do not necessarily even want to make them feel welcome.
"There's a divide. There's a chasm there, and it's unfortunate."
The Hartford Courant reported that Malloy, after the uproar in June, offered a huge tax sweetener to GE, slipped in with a roughly 700-page tax-implementer bill that was hard to quantify given its multiyear provision.
GE intends to sell its offices in Fairfield and at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York to further offset the cost of the move.