Editor’s note: This post was written by staff writers J. Scott Trubey and Greg Bluestein.
The General Electric headquarters relocation roadshow is about to make a stop in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned state and local economic development officials are preparing to play host to GE representatives in early October as the company conducts one of the most high-profile headquarters searches in modern U.S. business history.
Gov. Nathan Deal was mum on the timing of the visit, saying only that he welcomes the visit with open arms. But two people with knowledge of the plans said the visit will be early next month.
A GE spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the visit.
“We have formed an exploratory team to assess the company’s options to relocate corporate headquarters,” he said in a statement. “The team is currently engaged in the process and is taking many factors into consideration. When there is a final decision on relocation, we will communicate it publicly.”
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that the company would make a decision whether to move by the end of this year.
State and local economic development officials are expecting to pull out all the stops to show off the region, and if the recruitment of Mercedes-Benz is any guide, it will likely include not only visits to office towers and potential development sites, but also meetings with school officials and tours of executive and workforce housing.
During the recruitment of Mercedes’ U.S. headquarters, the recruitment pitch also included one-on-one time with Atlanta’s other Fortune 500 CEOs.
“We hope that GE will do as many other major companies have done, and believe that Georgia is the best place for them to have their home office,” Deal told the AJC. “We just try to show them the things that we can offer to them that we have offered to other companies, and just put our best foot forward. Hopefully they will make a decision to come our way.”
Georgia is among numerous states that have expressed interest in landing GE. The industrial conglomerate’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, first expressed interest in potentially leaving Connecticut earlier this year over Connecticut lawmakers’ plans to raise taxes to plug a budget hole.
GE’s search could be nothing more than a ploy to get Connecticut lawmakers to blink, but other states have spared little time getting in touch with the maker of locomotives and jet engines.
New York, Ohio and Texas are among the other states reportedly wooing GE.
Bloomberg recently reported that GE “may” tour developer Tishman Speyer’s Three Alliance Center tower. The 30-story Class-A building is under construction in Buckhead.
Meanwhile, developers have floated renderings of possible towers with GE’s logo splashed across the upper floors.
Bank of America Plaza, Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper, is another potential target. The tower is an icon of the Atlanta skyline and it is half empty, offering about 600,000 square feet of available office space.
GE has significant ties in Georgia, including more than 5,000 workers in several divisions. GE Energy Management and GE Power Generation Services are based in Georgia. John Rice, a vice chairman and chief of global operations, has a condo in Buckhead.
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.
Read more about the pursuit of GE at our premium website, MyAJC.com, or in the Wednesday print edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.