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GE Transportation to move headquarters to Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel GE TransportatiPresident CEO Lorenzo Simonelli announced company has chosen Chicago as its global headquarters Wednesday May 30

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and GE Transportation President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli announced the company has chosen Chicago as its global headquarters, Wednesday, May 30, 2012 . | John H. White~Sun-Times.

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Updated: July 6, 2012 8:58AM



GE Transportation — a builder of equipment that moves the rail, mining and marine industries — is moving its global headquarters from Erie, Pa. to Chicago, bringing 150 jobs and prestige to the city.

At a Cultural Center news conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, GE Transportation President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said Chicago’s central location, its role as a transportation hub and Emanuel’s commitment to spend billions rebuilding the city’s aging infrastructure were instrumental in the company’s decision to choose Chicago.

No city or state subsidy was asked, offered or required, he said.

“Chicago is a hub to be able to reach the global customer base. GE Transportation is looking to be customer-centric and to really focus on the global and domestic needs. Chicago enables us to do that,” Simonelli said.

“We’re no longer just a locomotive manufacturer. We’re a global transportation business. Chicago offers us the opportunity to be closer to our customers. It offers us the opportunity to be at the customer in very short time. And again, as you look at the infrastructure, you look at the logistic hub and the affinity toward transport here in Chicago, it was the right choice,” he said.

GE Transportation has a worldwide workforce of 12,000 and bills itself as a solver of the “world’s toughest transportation challenges.”

The company claims that its “fuel-efficient and lower emissions freight and passenger locomotives, diesel engines for rail, marine and stationary power applications, signaling and software solutions and drive systems for mining trucks” bring “value-added services” that “help customers grow.”

Chicago’s gain is Erie, Pa.’s loss. The company has been headquartered there for more than a century and will maintain its manufacturing hub there.

The first 50 of the 150 jobs will be filled by Erie employees relocated to Chicago. By 2014, GE Transportation plans to grow its global headquarters staff to 150.

The mayor’s office says the latest announcement brings the running total of private sector jobs created during Emanuel’s first year in office to 15,000 jobs by 22 different companies.

The company says it is currently evaluating several “suitable office locations.” During Emanuel’s first week in office, GE Capital, the financial services arm of General Electric, announced plans to expand operations in Chicago and create 1,000 jobs over the next three years.

The company, now located at 500 W. Monroe, said then it was searching for new offices.

Since taking office, Emanuel has cut hundreds of city jobs while relentlessly pursuing private sector jobs and corporate headquarters. He has also taken steps to improve the business climate — by cutting the $4-a-month employee head tax in half, consolidating business licenses and vowing to streamline inspections.

On Wednesday, Emanuel maintained that his willingness to make the tough decisions necessary to solve the city’s financial crisis, reform the public schools and City Colleges, rebuild the city’s aging infrastructure and expand O’Hare Airport has made the city an attractive location for corporate headquarters.

“This is again an example that, if you do what you need to do from our side — meet our challenges head-on, not shy away from ’em, but deal with them — companies will have the confidence to then move their corporate headquarters or their operations or expand here because they will see a city that’s on the move,” the mayor said.

Attracting corporate headquarters to Chicago was one of ten strategies pushed by World Business Chicago in the group’s ten-year plan to reverse, what Emanuel has called a “lost decade” for the city economically.

Emanuel has made transportation companies a particular focus of his private sector job hunt, with previous announcements involving United Airlines, Ford Motor Co. and Coyote Logistics. The mayor’s “Colleges-to-Careers” makeover of the Chicago City Colleges would prepare students at Olive Harvey College for jobs in the fast-growing transportation and logistics industries.



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