Malloy on GE: Boston is Not Getting What They Paid For

When General Electric announced it would leave Connecticut in January 2016, it seemed like the start of even worse economic news.

As he leaves office, Governor Dan Malloy has plenty of thoughts on one of the key moments that defined his second term.

“I think the reality is Boston is not going to get what they paid for,” Gov. Malloy said during one of his final interviews as he leaves office. “$140 million for a couple hundred jobs.”

When General Electric announced it would leave Connecticut in January 2016, it seemed like the start of even worse economic news.

GE had been located in Fairfield for about 40 years, and had announced in late 2015 that it was considering options outside Connecticut. It later announced it would move to Boston and build a new corporate headquarters.

The company said publicly that Boston was a better fit for a changing economy with access to younger, more valuable talent in a major city.

GE’s Fairfield campus, steps from the Merritt Parkway and equipped with a helipad, was from a different time, when business parks were popular destinations for major corporations.

“I have a lot of feelings, I suppose about GE,” Malloy said.

The Department of Economic and Community Development was chided by critics of the Malloy administration for putting a Pratt and Whitney engine in glossy materials talking about Connecticut as a place for businesses to locate and stay. GE is a competitor of Pratt and Whitney in the engine-building space.

Malloy did not mention that mistake, but did discuss the competitive environment and how General Electric told the governor the company felt betrayed by its home state.

Pratt and Whitney manufactures engines in Middletown and its corporate headquarters is in East Hartford.

“You know the first time I met with the leadership, they were yelling at me because Connecticut had backed a single provider of a jet engine for the F35 which is Pratt and Whitney,” Malloy said. “They greatly resented that entire Congressional delegation had backed a single provider as opposed to a competitive situation which they wanted to enter.”

Since the announcement of the move by GE, much has changed.

The company has seen its stock price plummet, and was even removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average earlier this year. It also hired a new CEO to replace the outgoing Jeff Immelt, the person ultimately responsible for the move to Boston.

The governor says he is not relishing in the company’s current situation, but believes the picture is now clearer surrounding the health of the company and what perhaps was happening behind the scenes when the decision was made to leave Connecticut.

He said, “General Electric and their leadership damaged a lot of people. As we sit here, there are people whose incomes have evaporated. And I'm talking about people who retired and relied on that dividend payment."

Malloy attempted at the final word on the issue as he leaves office in less than three weeks.

“One of the oddities of GE is they used to lecture me about this state's pension's problems, which we took massive steps in '11 to address and in the second SEBAC agreement to take steps to address, all the while GE went from a positive situation in their pension to a negative situation in their pension. So we're going in a positive direction and they went in the wrong direction, yet they felt free to lecture Connecticut even after it had gone to great lengths to address that problem.”

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