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Are Rhode Island’s General Electric Jobs On the Cutting Block?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


During a testy meeting last week, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt said that the company was striving to improve its financial performance - and that cuts to digital are on the table.

“And I think the third lever is really going to be reducing the digital spend. We’ve got a couple levers that we are going to pull in digital. One is, we are going to have revenue next year to offset the cost. The second one is, there is probably still $200 million from overlap between the businesses and GE Digital that I think we can clean up inside the company,” said Immelt.  He made the comments during the Electrical Products Group Brokers Conference in Florida last week.

GE's Rhode Island Play 

To date, General Electric has hired 46 in Rhode Island towards the company’s agreement with RI Commerce of hiring 100. The GE office was announced almost exactly one year ago,

GE will receive $4.6 million in qualified jobs tax credits for 100 jobs hired by January 1, 2019. The remainder of the qualified jobs tax credit isn't paid out until the jobs are created and paying taxes for a year.

And, GE will receive assistance from the First Wave Closing Fund of $150,000, to assist with improvements at 75 Fountain Street, plus $500,000 more from that fund if GE Digital has 100 full-time employees in Rhode Island no later than January 1, 2019, according to Matt Sheaff at RI Commerce.

In total GE will receive incentives totaling $5.25 million if they hit the 100 job target.

National Factors

Jeffrey Immelt

According to Boston Business Journal, “Immelt is already under pressure from shareholders, most notably the activist investor Trian Fund Management, to improve GE’s performance. The company agreed this spring to cut $2 billion in costs over two years following discussions with Trian.”

In a March 22 press release Trian said, "Trian believes GE’s commitment to reduce Industrial structural costs ratably over the next two years from $24.9 billion in 2016 to $22.9 billion in 2018 will help to improve long-term operating performance by further simplifying and streamlining the organization and is critical to ensuring that the company achieves its financial goals."

At the time of the Rhode Island announcement, GE stated the following. "We needed a place that had a strong tech talent pipeline, top-tier university partnership opportunities and great quality of life. With its unique location along the northeast corridor, Rhode Island gives us access to many of the assets we need for success. It has been a pleasure collaborating with Governor Raimondo, Secretary Pryor and their team to make this new office possible," said Chris Drumgoole, Vice President and chief technology officer.

"Our top priority is putting people back to work, so I'm thrilled that GE Digital is planning to bring hundreds of new high-paying jobs to Rhode Island over the next several years. This will create a meaningful opportunity for hundreds of Rhode Island families, and it was made possible by working together with the Speaker, Senate President, the Congressional delegation, and the business community,"  said Governor Gina Raimondo in June of 2016. 


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