Business & Tech

If they had it to do over, most companies would still pick Mass.

BOSTON, MA - 8/22/2016: General Electric has opened its new headquarters in Fort Point at 33-41 Farnsworth St Boston. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: BUSINESS TOPIC 23gemove

DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF/FILE 2016

General Electric’s headquarters in Fort Point.

Despite the state’s unreliable transportation network, its expensive housing, and its high costs for health care and labor, nearly three-quarters of companies that moved or expanded in Massachusetts in the past decade would do so again.

That’s according to a study released Tuesday by MassEcon, a nonprofit economic development organization that surveyed nearly 90 companies to find out what lured them to the state and whether they are still happy to be here.

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More than three out of four would relocate to Massachusetts again if faced with the same decision, according to the report.

The state’s skilled workforce and industry clusters such as biotechnology that attract specialized talent and foster collaboration are key draws, the report said.

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“We are heartened by the validation of Massachusetts,” said Susan Houston, executive director of MassEcon. “This study tells us we can’t be complacent. For Massachusetts to maintain — and grow — its leadership position, we must continue to nurture our key assets and address the challenges.”

Besides the high costs of health care and labor, expensive energy was listed as a big challenge for companies looking to move to Massachusetts.

And virtually all the companies that chose Eastern Massachusetts, including the Boston area, worried that congested roads and unreliable public transportation could make it harder to grow. High rents and a lack of affordable housing could also make it more difficult to attract younger workers, the companies said.

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Last year, the average rent in the Boston area was $2,038, topped only by rents in New York and San Francisco.

And while Boston offered General Electric Co. $25 million in tax breaks to relocate its headquarters from Connecticut last year, nearly 40 percent of the companies surveyed said incentives were not a factor in their decisions to expand. For the remaining 60 percent that did consider incentives, nearly half said they had received more generous tax breaks in other states. That suggests that other factors, such as the labor force, may have been more important, according to the report.

The survey was conducted over the past 18 months by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. MassEcon officials hope it will help guide policy makers when the consider how to ensure the state remains economically competitive.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.
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