If you think of Boston’s tech ecosystem like a mall, it just got its major anchor in the form of General Electric. The $130 billion company announced Wednesday that it’s moving its world headquarters to the Seaport District.
But GE already has a long history in Massachusetts. About 4,800 employees currently work in the state, according to the company. And moving its headquarters — including about 800 employees — follows other steps the company has taken in recent years to expand in the state.
Here’s a look at GE’s presence in the Bay State, past and present:
Boston will be home to about 800 GE employees as the company moves its world headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut, to the city. The move will place the company right next to many of the Boston’s startups and tech incubators. No specific location in the Seaport District has been announced yet. The company will begin moving this summer and is expected to complete the move in 2018.
Boston beat out several other cities in attracting the giant company. GE pointed to the area’s “technologically-fluent workforce,” and colleges and universities as a major draw. The company said its new headquarters will focus more on innovation. As part of the move, the company plans to create a new entity called the “GE Digital Foundry” to incubate and develop products in partnership with startups and customers.
Additionally, last year GE announced that its new business Current, which focuses on energy efficiency, would also be headquartered in Boston. The company has not released details about where and when Current will come to Boston.
Last year, GE opened a new 210,000-square-foot facility in Marlborough for its U.S. life sciences headquarters. Employees began moving into the new facility in December, according to the company. The life sciences division develops various tools and products used in biotech drug manufacturing. There are currently 460 employees in Marlborough and a nearby manufacturing facility in Westborough, with plans to add additional jobs by the end of this year.
GE has an aviation plant in Lynn, where the company manufactures jet engines and helicopter engines for military and commercial aircraft. The plant underwent jobs cuts a few years ago and the company sought tax credits to retain jobs at the facility.
GE also operates a “measurement and control business” in Billerica, as it describes the facility. The business creates a variety of measurement devices and sensors for the aerospace, energy, and oil and gas industries.
GE is closing down its plant in Avon, which will eliminate more than 300 jobs. The plant, which makes valves for pipeline companies, is expected to close in the middle of this year.
Pittsfield was once home to a massive GE operation, up until the late 1980s. The company had built transformers there since 1902. At the height of production, GE employed 14,000 people. The company was the largest employer in the city and in many ways had been Pittsfield’s identity. When GE left, the local economy was devastated.
There were also environmental impacts. For decades, GE used PCBs, which are known to cause cancer, at its transformer plant along the Housatonic River. In 2000, the company signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the river. The cleanup is ongoing and has faced regulatory hurdles over the years.
More on GE’s legacy in Pittsfield.