Location and Corporate Presence: GE’s Move to Boston

Beta Boston Columnist Scott Kirsner

How much does an active tech scene really inspire a global tech conglomerate — especially one that is as far-flung as GE? That’s a big question, as Edison’s company prepares to move from the distant suburbs of New York to Boston.

Boston tech blogger Scott Kirsner placed his bet on Boston last week in an excellent column. “If GE thinks its future is about deal-making, glossy marketing campaigns, and trying to squeeze costs out of industry sectors undergoing commoditization, New York is the place,” he wrote.

But “if GE thinks its future is about keeping its portfolio of billion-dollar businesses steps ahead of the competition, growing new ones, and recruiting a next generation of digitally-savvy leaders from some of the world’s top schools, that points to Boston.”

That all makes sense to me. Personally, we’ve seen that location is important in providing proximity to capital and people, energy, tech savviness and overall smarts, and culture. All these can be diminished by real estate prices, bad schools and weather. But taxes probably pay the biggest role.

Is Boeing better off for having moved to Chicago? And Gannett in Virginia? Beyond the financial and news companies, are any other companies really better off in New York?

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