GE shines in Florida sun

Friday, July 1, 2005

BRADENTON, Fla.--General Electric continued in its drive to merge operations and key personal of its GE Infrastructure, Security division under one roof, announcing plans to relocate the unit's worldwide headquarters from Austin, Texas to here.
The Austin office will close and almost all of the 30 employees received relocation packages from the company. The security division will occupy the recently built $15-million former headquarters of Edwards Systems Technology. GE purchased that company for $1.39 billion in March.
Governor Jeb Bush announced GE's decision at his 2005 budget signing in Tallahassee in May. The company estimates that it will invest approximately $6 million relocating the division for expenses such as new equipment and worker recruitment.
"It is not a just a result of growth, but it's poising ourselves to grow even more," said Michelle May, communications manager with GE Infrastructure, Security.
GE Infrastructure, Security is the newest business among GE's 11 businesses. Within this unit, there are four divisions: security, sensing, water and process technology, and Fanuc engineering. Under the security unit, there are three subcategories: network solutions, engineered systems and homeland security.
The engineered systems division was created after the EST acquisition closed and is based here as well. It is comprised of not only fire and life safety products but also enterprise solutions and the former Interface Systems company.
"As we consolidate, it was an opportunity to consolidate our headquarter operations with one of our operating units," said May on the company's decision to move.
GE shuffled its security operations earlier this year, when it said it would reduce headcount at its Interlogix office in Arden Hills, Minn., and transfer all of the manufacturing positions from its CADDX facility in Gladewater, Texas, to a Mexican plant.
"I think GE is unique because they have added a significant number of security assets over the last few years," said Jack Mallon, managing director at Mallon Associates. "It is inevitable that there will be some restructuring."
The company expects to create 70 positions within Florida, as a result of the move, with the average yearly salary in excess of $125,000. Seven of GE's primary business divisions are in the state of Florida, equaling out to approximately 6,000 employees.
GE received an incentive package from the state that included a qualified tax incentive of $350,000, which provides for a $5,000 tax rebate per job, a quick action closing fund of $560,000, which can be used to offset some of the upfront relocation expenses, and a Manatee County QTI bonus incentive of $140,000, which the county created to match by 25 percent of the $350,000 tax incentive.
Individuals from the Austin office will begin relocating this summer, according to May, with the transition complete by the end of the year.