On Monday afternoon, General Electric is holding an event to field questions from the press and further detail its planned headquarters move to Boston. GE officials will be joined by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker, two elected officials who have counted courting the storied conglomerate to the Seaport as a big political win.
The event is being labeled as a “celebration,” but that won’t be the mood outside. A coalition of activist groups plan to protest the city and state financial incentive package used to attract GE, with a market cap of nearly $300 billion, north from Connecticut. The groups also take issue with GE’s history of minimizing federal tax payments and its pollution of the Housatonic River in Western Massachusetts, stemming from a former GE plant in Pittsfield, according to a Facebook event listing for the protest.
“Not a penny for GE until it cleans up its pollution of the Housatonic River in Western MA!” the listing reads.
GE will receive up to $25 million in city tax breaks over 20 years and up to $120 million in state grants for infrastructure related to building out its new Fort Point headquarters. The city says that even with the tax breaks, GE’s headquarters development will create millions more in property tax value over the period of the abatement than the location currently generates.
The city has also pledged to rebuild the closed Northern Avenue bridge into the Seaport as part of the agreement, while the activists think the money would be better spent elsewhere. Most recently, GE has faced some criticism for the possibility that it will transfer ownership of two of its three planned headquarters buildings to the Boston Redevelopment Authority and, while paying to upgrade the buildings, not pay for rent.
More than 30 activist groups are listed as cosponsoring the event, including the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, the Budget for All Campaign, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee, the Housatonic River Initiative, and No Boston 2024, one of the two groups to protest the city’s Olympic bid last year. On Facebook, 119 people have said they plan to attend the protest as of Sunday evening.