Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo didn’t win the high-stakes battle for General Electric’s corporate headquarters, but she’s coming away with a nice consolation prize.
On Thursday, Raimondo said the industrial conglomerate would open a GE Digital information technology center in Providence. GE expects to employ 100 people in the near term, but Raimondo said she expected a few hundred to work there eventually, over the next several years.
The new employees will work on the company’s “Industrial Internet” platform, which uses software to control and monitor big equipment and machines, and operate them more efficiently using data analysis. The new Providence center will employ engineers, data scientists, and other professionals with backgrounds in data, design, and information technology.
Raimondo said the exact location hasn’t been decided yet, but it will be somewhere in Providence. GE’s decision grew out of discussions Raimondo and her team had with GE executives about the corporate relocation. GE ended up picking Boston in January for its new headquarters, a factor that Raimondo said probably helped persuade GE to expand in Providence.
“I’m sure it is helpful that the headquarters is going to now be just up the road,” Raimondo said.
She said there were a number of other factors, too, including Rhode Island’s strong universities and the state’s recent fiscal reforms.
“We needed a place that had a strong tech talent pipeline, top-tier university partnership opportunities and great quality of life,” GE chief technology officer Chris Drumgoole said in a statement. “With its unique location along the northeast corridor, Rhode Island gives us access to many of the assets we need for success.”
Rhode Island officials expect to provide up to $5.65 million in public incentives over 10 years to reward GE for bringing the 100 jobs. A spokeswoman said Raimondo expects Rhode Island will get back more than double that in state revenues over 12 years.
GE Digital spokeswoman Amy Sarosiek said nearly all the jobs will be new to the company. A small number of managers — fewer than 10 — will move to Providence to “provide leadership to the new teams and help establish GE culture,” she said.
“We will have our new office location in Providence in early 2017 and are currently seeking a temporary space in there to build the team as soon as possible,” Sarosiek said.
The Providence location will be responsible for driving innovation in GE’s use of “high performance computing,” she said.
Raimondo had been among the governors who aggressively courted GE after the company announced last year it was considering moving from its current headquarters in Fairfield, Conn.
When GE announced its move from Connecticut to Boston’s Fort Point section in January, discussions were still ongoing about some sort of presence in Providence. Of the 800 jobs in Boston, only about 200 will be for the company’s corporate offices, while many of the rest will be digital-oriented positions such as software developers — similar to those coming to Providence.
“In many cases, Rhode Island is just not on the radar of a lot of companies,” Raimondo said. “But once companies or people take the time to look at our high quality of life, low cost of living, great talent, good business environment, often people see it’s an excellent place and they want to take a harder look.”