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Georgia officially eliminated from GE’s HQ race

Fortune 500 industrial giant General Electric will not be moving its headquarters to Georgia.

Connecticut-based GE officially notified Georgia officials Saturday morning that metro Atlanta had been eliminated from consideration.

“While disappointed, of course, we are proud that GE has such a great presence in Georgia already, and we are confident that after going through this process with them and being able to showcase the great talent, infrastructure and innovation we have in Georgia, that our state will be an attractive option for further projects with GE in the future,” state Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr said in a statement.

The move follows a spat between the maker of locomotives, jet engines and advanced medical devices over tax policy in Connecticut that prompted GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt to look for a new base of operations. GE officials have said the company plans to announce its decision on whether to stay in Fairfield, Conn., or leave, by the end of the year.

GE’s decision is a blow to Georgia economic development officials, who have netted big recruitments this year such as the U.S. division of Mercedes-Benz, but missed on a Volvo factory.

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Gov. Nathan Deal had made courting GE one of the state’s top economic development priorities, and earlier this month Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told the media that the city and state were prepared to make a strong bid, including tax incentives, to land the company.

The Peach State’s sales pitch included GE’s existing infrastructure in Georgia where it employs several thousand people, Atlanta’s globally-connected airport and low tax environment.

The official notice ends a months-long courtship with GE that reportedly had the Atlanta area as one of the leading contenders.

But, while many in the business community were upbeat about Georgia’s chances, state officials started hinting about four weeks ago that getting GE to move its headquarters to the South and buck GE’s more than century-old northeastern roots was a daunting challenge.

State officials with knowledge of the process expect GE to remain somewhere in the northeast, with New York and Connecticut being top contenders.

Still, though state and local recruiters said they are disappointed in being eliminated, multiple state officials have told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they are hopeful the process could lead to other jobs announcements. Officials have courted not only GE but officers from other Connecticut Fortune 500 companies upset about their state’s tax changes.

For instance, Georgia competed a few years ago for a Boeing 777-X airliner factory. Though the factory went as expected to Washington, Georgia’s pursuit led to a deal with Boeing to convert a Macon military aircraft parts plant into a facility that will make fuselage panels for the 747-8 airliner. That move will create about 200 jobs.

Georgia was not alone in its pursuit, with dozens of states initially expressing a desire to land GE’s headquarters after the company objected to plans by Connecticut lawmakers to raise corporate taxes.

GE representatives toured sites in the metro Atlanta area as recently as October.

Georgia was instantly considered a top contender for the headquarters.

GE has significant ties in Georgia, including more than 5,000 workers in several divisions. GE Energy Management and GE Power Generation Services are based in Georgia. John Rice, a vice chairman and chief of global operations, has a residence in Buckhead.

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