By Antonio Sanchez / Rio Rancho Observer Staff Writer
The Sandoval Economic Alliance is taking a shot at luring a corporate giant, asking Connecticut-based General Electric to consider moving its headquarters here.
According to news accounts, GE has begun putting together “an exploratory team to look into the company’s options to relocate HQ to another state with a more pro-business environment” in response to higher taxes approved as part of the Connecticut state budget last month.
GE is one of the world’s largest corporations, manufacturing everything from electrical equipment to jet engines, medical devices and oil drilling equipment. The company employs nearly 6,000 people in Connecticut.
Sandoval Economic Alliance President and CEO Jami Grindatto said the organization reacted quickly to the news about GE, contacting the company at the beginning of June. He said the company responded within the same week, asking for a proposal.
Grindatto said SEA has worked alongside the state’s Economic Development Department on the proposal.
Competition for the company is intense, with Texas, New York and Indiana also voicing interest, but Grindatto said it’s comforting to hear from GE that it is interested in New Mexico.
“I think we have a quality of life that many other metro areas do not provide, and that goes all the way from the weather to public safety, the quality of the Rio Rancho public school system,” Grindatto said. “The governor and the Legislature have reduced tax rates, the corporate income tax is down, we have a very good business climate.”
Tiffany Avery, SEA’s director of marketing and communications, said the alliance sent its proposal last week, concentrating on the factors GE said would be important, including quality of life, ease of travel and the cost of doing business.
“Most of the quality of life factors we put front and center,” she said Thursday.
In an email provided to CNBC and other news outlets last month, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt told Connecticut-based employees that he has put together a team to evaluate a move to another state with “a more pro-business environment.”
Immelt said that the company’s state taxes have increased five times since 2011 and that the new Connecticut budget would impose “significant and retroactive tax increases for businesses,” according to the CNBC story. Immelt said the company started to consider the move “after a lot of thought and in the context of our ability to compete.”
The Sandoval Economic Alliance was established a year ago as an economic development engine for Sandoval County, building upon the work of the Rio Rancho Economic Development Corp. The RREDC voted to transfer all its assets and intellectual property to SEA before ceasing operations in June.
Grindatto said that 814 jobs have been filled and 667 jobs have been committed since SEA started, and that the alliance “had a hand” in bringing about 75 percent of those jobs to the county.
Journal staff contributed to this report.