With Move to Boston, GE to Invest In City’s Schools

(Photo: Creative Commons)

(Photo: Creative Commons)

General Electric (GE) has announced a plan to donate $50 million over the next five years to an array of Boston programs including public schools, diversity training programs, internship programs, and community health efforts.

GE detailed its planned philanthropic efforts in Boston, which will start with investing $25 million into Boston Public Schools. The investment will fund "career labs, computer science courses, and high school design experience to prepare tomorrow's workforce." Additionally, the funds will provide assistance for teachers in technology, math, and engineering.

"Together GE and Boston will lead the digital transformation of industry," GE CEO Jeff Immelt said in a statement. "To build a global digital company and community, we must invest to further educate our children in science and math and improve health care in underserved communities. GE's investments will create thousands of new jobs and support Boston's regional and economic activities."

The money will also create a program called GE Brilliant Career Labs that will give students access to manufacturing technology and software. It will have both physical and virtual locations that facilitate students' engagement with and understanding of manufacturing-like internships, jobs, and professional activities.

According to Adam Vaccaro of Boston.com, activist groups staged a protest in Boston against GE's relocation. The protesters argue that GE, a Fortune 500 company, should not have been given nearly $150 million of state and city financial incentives as part of its move from Connecticut to Massachusetts. The groups also decried the low rate of corporate taxes GE has paid in the past several years, a criticism echoed from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

"If they want to do philanthropy in addition then that's their rights, but they should pay their own share like everybody else does," Eli Gerzon of Jewish Voice for Peace, one of the activist groups protesting GE's move. "Philanthropy is not a replacement for the civic duty of paying their taxes."

The remaining funds will go to train workers at 22 community health centers around the Greater Boston area in technology, leadership, and specialty care. It will also work with students of color in securing internships and professional training, with GE supporting health centers, such as Lynn Community Health Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Bringham and Women's Hospital. Greg Ryan of BizJournals writes that much of GE's charitable giving is through its matching gifts program, through which the company matches employees' donations to non-profits dollar-for-dollar.

In fact, groups in Connecticut have begun worrying that the charity funds and business generated by GE's presence over the years will soon be exported out-of-state in the wake of the company's move. For Boston, however, the move will be a boon. According to the website BostInno, GE's relocation will add 4,000 new jobs in the Boston area, and those jobs will create n estimated $260 million in new income. The move will also generate $776 million in new real estate demand.

GE's CEO said that every dollar spent on the company's relocation will be repaid back to Boston "a thousand fold."

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