GE to explore options to relocate corporate headquarters outside Connecticut

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FAIRFIELD – Fox CT has obtained a letter General Electric’s CEO sent to Connecticut employees Thursday afternoon saying they were exploring options to relocate the company’s operations to another state due to the tax increases passed last night in the state legislature.

“I have assembled an exploratory team to look into the company’s options to relocate corporate HQ to another state with a more pro-business environment,” said Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO.

State legislators passed a $40 Billion budget last night that included corporate tax increases. Immelt urged employees to contact their state legislators to express their concerns.

GE employs more than 5,700 people across the state of Connecticut. Most of those are with GE Capital, and the others are split between Corporate and Energy Management. The company said they spend $14 billion with suppliers in the state.

Earlier this week, GE took the rare step of criticizing the state budget proposal, which boosts spending and taxes, and questions whether businesses and individuals should stay in Connecticut. The industrial conglomerate that posted revenue of $148.59 billion in 2014 said in a statement on its website Monday that the proposed tax increase is “truly discouraging.”

The Fairfield-based company sits at #9 in the Fortune 500 list,  and says retroactively raising taxes makes businesses and residents “seriously consider whether it makes any sense” to stay. It says other states offer more opportunities and a better environment for business growth.

Here is his full statement.

Colleagues:

Last night, the Connecticut legislature passed a tax package which includes significant and retroactive tax increases for businesses in the state. The passing of this law, despite the concerns we raised, has serious implications for GE, other businesses and for the business climate in Connecticut.  Please see attached fact sheet on the current environment.  As a result of this law passing, I have assembled an exploratory team to look into the company’s options to relocate corporate HQ to another state with a more pro-business environment.  This will be a thoughtful process which will take many factors, especially employee impact, into consideration.  As the team makes progress, we will keep you updated.

We only consider this after a lot of thought and in the context of our ability to compete. GE is a major employer in the state.  We purchase $14 billion in goods and services from Connecticut companies. Despite this, we have had a tough past decade in Connecticut. Our taxes have been raised five times since 2011, while support for our strategies has been uneven.  I believe we should pay our fair share and that all of us should give back to our communities. But, we can compare Connecticut with other states where small and large businesses have a better environment to thrive and compete.

The new taxes will raise more than $1.9 billion. This will be the second highest tax increase in the state’s history behind only the more than $2 billion tax hike passed in 2011. Throughout the week we conveyed our concerns that these would not improve the competitiveness of small and large businesses in the state. We further reiterated those points in a public statement as the legislature began its budget deliberations.

If you wish to register your concern, you can find your legislator by clicking http://www.cbia.com/ga/get_involved/contact_ct_legislators/ and all legislators can be reached through the Capitol switchboard at 860-240-8500. The decision to engage your representatives is, of course, voluntary.

Jeff