“Since relocating our operations to the fifth floor at The Banks, we have continued to review our footprint and use of the building,” Chief Information Officer David Burns wrote to GE Aerospace employees in a Nov. 1 memo obtained by WCPO. “After careful consideration, GE Aerospace made the decision to bring our (digital technologies) workforce together in Evendale in early 2024.”
Burns said the move will “enable stronger collaboration with our business partners, while maintaining the workplace culture we’ve built for ourselves at The Banks.”
The changes at The Banks are not expected to reduce GE’s local employment of about 9,000 people.
In 2014, the company received the biggest tax-incentive package in Cincinnati’s history, when it promised to create 1,400 new jobs and retain 326 existing jobs in exchange for a 15-year tax credit that was estimated to be worth $90.4 million at the time.
Tax credit deals provide a partial refund to companies for earnings taxes paid by their employees if they meet job-creation, investment and payroll goals established by their agreements.
GE’s headcount reached 1,441 in 2018, state records show. That number declined to 1,134 by November 2021.
“It didn’t work because of the pandemic,” said Doug Moormann, vice president, Government Development Strategies Group, an economic development consulting firm. “It’s what we’ve seen across the country. People have not come back to work. So, businesses are adjusting to that with smaller footprints.”
The pandemic was followed by a 2021 decision to split GE into three separate publicly traded companies.
GE was a sprawling conglomerate in 2016, when it opened The Banks building as a global operations service center. It was built to provide accounting, IT, finance and communications help to manufacturing sites all over the world. But now those sites are split among three companies.
GE Healthcare Technologies debuted on the Nasdaq exchange in January. GE Vernova is expected to spin off from the company by next June. That will leave GE Aerospace as a standalone public company, with roughly 48,000 local employees and an Evendale headquarters.
“Certainly, when companies go through reorganizations, especially one as big as GE, that has an impact. It ripples throughout the company,” Moormann said.
But the building itself has its own potential, attracting three new tenants since 2022.
Mass Mutual Life Insurance received $3.4 million in state incentives in 2022 to relocate 633 local employees to The Banks and create 150 jobs. The employees run Great American Life, an annuities subsidiary that American Financial Group Inc. sold to Mass Mutual in 2021.
Staffmark is a recruiting firm that relocated to The Banks in August. So did First Student Inc., which operates bus fleets for school districts. All three tenants relocated from other downtown office buildings and filled four of the building’s nine office floors.
GE Aerospace, which controls the building with a lease that runs through 2031, says it’s confident it will attract tenants for the five floors still available.
“We are proud of our role as a catalyst for development at The Banks, and we are committed to working proactively to secure additional new tenants who will continue to bring vitality to the heart of our headquarters region,” spokesman Nick Hurm said.
And that approach works just fine for Jean-Francois Flechet, whose Taste of Belgium restaurant operates on the building’s first floor.
“We’ll serve waffles, chicken and beer to anyone, whether they work for GE or not,” Flechet said. “I just hope they sublease the space quickly as the only reason we opened this location seven years ago was because of GE’s commitment to the area.”