General Electric Co. dropped the Dallas area as a site for a possible headquarters move because of concern that Texas’s political climate is unfavorable to the company’s business, people familiar with the matter said.
GE told Dallas business leaders in recent days it would look elsewhere for alternatives to its Connecticut home, said the people, who asked not to be identified because details aren’t public. They said GE cited some Texas lawmakers’ opposition to the U.S. Export-Import Bank, an important source of financing for some overseas sales.
The Ex-Im argument adds a new dimension to GE’s evaluation of office options outside Fairfield, where it has been based since the 1970s. Rising taxes make Connecticut a tough place for growth, according to GE, one of the biggest U.S. exporters and a maker of products including lightbulbs and locomotives. GE has also looked at Atlanta, among other locations, people said.
GE declined to discuss its Texas plans, and instead provided a statement originally released in June saying the company “is taking many factors into consideration” in any move. Mike Rosa, senior vice president of economic development for the Dallas Regional Chamber, declined to comment.
The Ex-Im bank’s charter expired June 30 when Republican members of Congress blocked a reauthorization vote, eliminating a source of credit for U.S. companies seeking export sales. GE has benefited from that financing on international orders, especially for its jet-engine business.
Texas Republicans including Representative Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, helped lead the charge against the bank, saying the federal agency used taxpayer money to benefit large corporations and foreign interests. The congressman’s office said in a statement that if Ex-Im stances are influencing GE’s choice, “they are going to have to bypass pretty much every state, including Georgia.”
“Most companies base important decisions like this on low taxes, a skilled workforce, a fair legal system and quality of life, which is why everyone knows there is no better state to do business in than Texas,” Jeff Emerson, a spokesman for Hensarling, said via e-mail.
GE’s international customers received almost $1 billion in credit assistance from the bank last year, according to an Ex-Im annual report. GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said in June that the company would move manufacturing work and jobs out of the U.S. if the bank isn’t reauthorized. Some lawmakers are working to revive the agency.
Dallas’s role as a possible new home for GE emerged publicly last week when people familiar with the matter said the city, a popular spot for corporate relocations, was under study.
GE also has held exploratory talks in Atlanta as the company weighs a move to a 30-story building under construction near the city’s financial center, the people said. GE isn’t close to a deal and is considering locations in other states, the people said.
The company’s willingness to at least study a move prompted overtures from political leaders in states such as Georgia and New York. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has said he met recently with executives to offer incentives to stay.
GE has 4,900 employees in Connecticut, chiefly in the Norwalk offices of the GE Capital finance arm that the parent is shrinking to focus on manufacturing operations. About 800 workers are located in Fairfield.
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