Might General Electric’s logo don the top of Atlanta’s newest office tower?
Bloomberg reported late Wednesday that GE “may meet” with the developer of Three Alliance Center in Buckhead as part of its search for a new headquarters city. The report cited unnamed people, and said other cities, including Dallas, are under consideration.
The company also isn’t close to a decision, Bloomberg reported, and the purported meeting with developer Tishman Speyer could happen “in the coming weeks,” the report said.
The wording “may meet” is a little thin, but it is known that Georgia is quite interested in the headquarters of the industrial conglomerate.
Georgia has been among the states lobbying hard to land GE ever since CEO Jeffrey Immelt opened the possibility of leaving Connecticut in June. Immelt has been among the harshest critics of a Connecticut budget plan he said would impose “significant and retroactive tax increases for businesses.”
Landing of GE would be quite the feather in the cap for metro Atlanta, and follow the successful recruitment of Mercedes-Benz’ US headquarters. It also might take away a little of the sting of losing a planned Volvo plant to South Carolina.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported in June that Gov. Nathan Deal had been among the first governors to reach out to GE officials and to make clear the state was interested in discussing the situation with Immelt.
Since then, state recruiters have reportedly met with GE officials. Other states, including Texas, Ohio, Florida, and New York, reportedly have all expressed interest.
GE’s announcement could simply be sabre rattling and a bid to get Connecticut lawmakers to bend to the company’s wishes.
But if GE decides to move the company’s headquarters would be a huge target. Were Georgia to prevail it would arguably be the state’s biggest relocation win since UPS moved here in the early 1990s.
Developer Tishman Speyer’s Three Alliance Center, near the Ga. 400 and Lenox Road interchange in Buckhead, is the first speculative office skyscraper to come out of the ground in Atlanta since the Great Recession. The project is not known to have an anchor tenant.
Metro Atlanta lacks many large blocks of vacant space. Bank of America Plaza, the city’s tallest tower, is about half-empty.
The region has a sizable GE presence in the form of headquarters for two of its units: GE Energy Management and GE Power Generation Services. The company also makes heavy machinery such as locomotives, jet engines and medical devices
GE employs 5,300 people across Georgia, including 1,600 in LaFayette who make kitchen ranges. GE Power & Water employs 1,400 in the region, and GE’s financial services arm has more than 1,100 workers statewide.
How many jobs might be involved if the headquarters is at play isn’t clear. It’s likely that any formal recruitment would turn into a bidding war and include a heavy dose of state and local financial incentives such as grants and tax credits related to job creation.
Georgia and many Southern states have lower tax, labor and real estate costs. Mercedes-Benz cited those factors in its decision to move its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to a future site in Sandy Springs.