Come to Boston for the sights, stay for the tax credits
Boston and the entire state is puffing out its collective chest just a little bit more this morning with the announcement that General Electric is moving its worldwide headquarters to the Seaport District this summer.
And all it took was money. Lots and lots of money. Potentially as much as $145 million in tax credits, grants, and infrastructure improvements.
After being wooed by no less than 40 other communities after announcing its intention to leave its home in suburban Connecticut after the state fiddled with its corporate tax rate, GE settled on the Hub as its new address, citing the emerging tech industry, access to the region’s colleges and universities, and the business environment around Boston.
Oh, there was some vague mention about the bag of cash being offered to the company as part of the deal but it was downplayed in statements and interviews by public and corporate officials, who highlighted the “ecosystem” that GE was looking for. It’s fair to say places such as San Francisco and New York, which were also vying for the right to be called home, could compete in those other areas, but in the end it was a package that essentially made the move cost-free that drew the world’s sixth-biggest corporation to Boston.
GE, in its decision, cited the coordinated efforts of two of Massachusetts leading political figures, Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, as key in courting the company.
“We were impressed by how well they worked in a bipartisan fashion,” GE spokeswoman Deirdre Latour told POLITICO Massachusetts. “The city and the state wanted so badly to make Massachusetts a state that is competitive for business.”
But not all Bay State pols may be on board with the arrival. GE, which has been notorious for pushing the limits of tax laws to bring its tax payments down to pennies on the dollar, is coming to the state of one of its most high-profile critics. In 2012, then-candidate Elizabeth Warren used GE as a corporate punching bag in the campaign against sitting Sen. Scott Brown.
“Today, Washington lets big corporations like GE pay nothing – zero – in taxes, while kids are left drowning in debt to get an education,” Warren said in one ad. “This isn’t about economics; it’s about our values.”
Yet Warren, perhaps through clenched teeth, issued a statement to Politico saying that Boston will be a great fit for GE. “I’m glad that the company will be able to draw on the tremendous resources in the Greater Boston area as it continues to grow,” she said.
Despite the cheerleading for the decision by the likes of the Globe’s Shirley Leung, who calls it a bigger victory than if Boston had won the Olympic bid, others are putting out the yellow caution flag. The Globe’s Evan Horowitz says it’s a nice “symbolic victory” but in the end it is more about the state and city’s self-image than any business coup. Does it change the national image of Taxachusetts? Sure. Will it attract other businesses? Perhaps. Is it a game-changer for tax revenues? Highly unlikely.
In the end, the argument for GE’s move to Boston is not unlike the Olympics: It will spur some transportation and housing initiatives, it will transform and revitalize a segment of the city, and it will give us bragging rights over the rest of the world.
And the T still has problems.
The House unanimously passes a bill to address the opioid epidemic. (Associated Press)
The Senate will staff and keep open the former State House office of Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund, who resigned to take his new post earlier this month. Hedlund says he will pay to keep his district offices running until a special election is held in May. (Patriot Ledger)
Two interesting takes on affordable housing in Newton: Jack Sullivan looks at the economic-political dynamics involved while Amy Dain reflects on her hometown and concludes smart growth is taking hold. (CommonWealth)
The Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill is looking for space to store a portion of the counter and stools from the downtown F.W. Woolworth Co. building that was demolished last year. (Eagle-Tribune)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants to strengthen the city’s residency rules for municipal workers. (Boston Globe)
The Fall River City Council rejected Mayor Jasiel Correia’s plan to create a substance abuse prevention position, blocking the new mayor’s first major initiative and showing there will be friction between the council and executive branch. (Herald News)
Gloucester takes a hit as Alchemy, a popular downtown bistro, is shutting down for good. (Gloucester Times)
Bridgewater has received a $1.6 million FEMA grant to hire eight new firefighters. (The Enterprise)
If you’re reading this, it’s a good bet you did not buy one of the three winning Powerball tickets in California, Tennessee, or New York. (New York Times) And the fact we’re writing this means we weren’t part of the record $1.6 billion jackpot, either.
Easton officials and the developers of a proposed Brockton casino are heading to arbitration after failing to come to an agreement on a surrounding community mitigation deal. (The Enterprise)
Some scientists believe North Korea’s tests of a submarine-launched ballistic missile last month and the claim of a successful explosion of a hydrogen bomb were faked, with the films of the tests edited and manipulated to show successful results. (U.S. News & World Report)
Attackers in Jakarta, Indonesia, set off a bomb at a Starbucks and waged gun battles with police. (Associated Press)
Could impeachment be next for Maine’s controversy-plagued governor, Paul LePage? (Boston Globe)
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, competing for the top spot in many polls, may go at it in tonight’s GOP debate in South Carolina. (Boston Herald)
Cruz didn’t report a loan from Goldman Sachs for his first Senate campaign. (New York Times)
Hillary Clinton would really like the endorsement of Elizabeth Warren. (Boston Globe)
Three local fishing boats and four from North Carolina that were forced into New Bedford because of dangerous seas have been barred from unloading their catch because of a government regulation technicality on quotas. (Standard-Times)
In Seattle, 85 percent of households have broadband, but the tech savvy city can’t figure out how to get everyone connected to the Internet. (Governing)
One Boston school, the Boston Community Leadership Academy, pushes back against district-wide budget cuts. (WBUR)
The former superintendent of the Holyoke schools, Sergio Paez, has lost his bid to lead the Minneapolis schools after questions were raised about his oversight and follow-through on abuse claims at a Holyoke school during his tenure there. (Boston Globe)
The Fall River School Committee voted to support a moratorium on high stakes testing. (Herald News)
Richard Greif of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay says girls have plenty of role models while boys need a lot more help. (CommonWealth)
The former CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare, who abruptly resigned in 2010 and was later disciplined by the state for writing prescriptions for himself and family, received payments from the hospital system over the next four years totalling $3.5 million, according to filings with the Attorney General’s office. (Cape Cod Times)
State officials are tightening regulations covering those who provide addiction services. (Boston Globe)
A high-stakes patent showdown over a gene-splicing technique is brewing between researchers at MIT and the Broad Institute and a professor at the University of California-Berkeley. (Boston Herald).
A decade after a disastrous run that left the Steamship Authority losing money, officials are once again looking at reviving a New Bedford-to-Martha’s Vineyard freight service to relieve truck congestion in Woods Hole and transport solid waste off the island. (Standard-Times)
Three are indicted in connection with the theft of machine guns and pistols from the US Army Reserve Center in Worcester. (Telegram & Gazette)
Cost is a problem as Worcester officials try to expand the use of police body cameras and other video equipment. (Telegram & Gazette)
State Auditor Suzanne Bump says judges repeatedly make errors in collecting probation supervision fees. (Masslive)
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke out against mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders at an appearance at Harvard Law School. (Boston Herald)
A longtime suspect in the Gardner Museum art heist has had his sentence reduced for an unrelated armored car robbery, with the Globe speculating it may have to do with information he’s provided on the location of the stolen art work.
MEDIAAl Jazeera America will shut down by April. (New York Times)