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February 17, 2012

GE Capital to open technology center in New Orleans

Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc., the economic development alliance for the 10-parish Greater New Orleans region, joined Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and representatives from GE to announce the creation of a major new corporate office in New Orleans with 300 new direct jobs in information technology (IT) and software development. The GE Capital Technology Center, an IT Center of Excellence, will provide software development and IT support for the company’s financial services business.

The project will produce 300 new IT jobs with salaries ranging from $60,000 to $100,000, plus benefits, that will support GE Capital’s growth. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates that the 300 new GE Capital positions in New Orleans will result in approximately 301 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 600 direct and indirect jobs. By the end of 2015 when the Technology Center is fully staffed, its total payroll will be in excess of $28 million, excluding benefits.

GE Capital initially considered hundreds of municipalities for this project and ultimately reduced the cities under consideration to five and then two prior to the company’s final selection. New Orleans ultimately was selected because of the city’s rapidly growing technology sector and attractive quality of life, the state’s strong business climate, customized recruitment services offered by LED FastStart™, and a competitive incentive package from LED.

In late 2010, GNO, Inc. and LED guided company representatives through the selection process, which involved the participation of New Orleans Business Alliance, Ochsner Health System, area universities, local partners, and business representatives in the region.

“GE’s decision to place the GE Capital Technology Center in Greater New Orleans is enormously significant,” said Michael Hecht, GNO Inc. president and CEO. “It will create hundreds of high-paying jobs, bolster a growing new industry, and lend global credibility to our region as a premier destination for software development. But most of all, it is a validation of the broad partnerships at the city, region, state, and even federal levels that have made this win possible.” “Our unparalleled quality of life, New Orleans’ rapidly growing technology sector and our commitment to build the best economy of the future, right here in Louisiana, attracted GE Capital and brought this project to our state,” said Gov. Jindal. “With today’s announcement, Louisiana is continuing to prove our mettle in the software development world, the information sector, and the corporate world. The bottom line is that we will not rest until Louisiana is known as a major hub of corporate headquarters and software and technology centers of excellence.

“GE Capital joins a growing list of major project wins including Blade Dynamics, Folgers, The Receivables Exchange, Nucor, NuStar Energy, and more, that are helping to create a tremendous resurgence in the New Orleans economy. We are seeing a city – steeped in centuries of peerless culture, shipping leadership, energy production, and extraordinary quality of life – rise to a new era, one in which New Orleans will shine as a beacon of career opportunities in technology and jobs of the future. The new New Orleans will combine the best of the past with the most promising jobs of the future.”

“When selecting a location for a center of this importance, we considered many attractive options across the country,” said GE Senior Vice President and General Counsel Brackett Denniston. “Louisiana rose to the top of our list because of the advantages it offers in terms of talent, infrastructure, location, and environment. Gov. Jindal and the Louisiana delegation presented a compelling case for locating in Louisiana. We are proud to be bringing this state-of-the-art facility to one of America’s signature cities in a state committed to growth. We look forward to building on GE’s already strong presence in Louisiana with these high-wage, highly skilled jobs. This center will be an important resource for GE Capital and the New Orleans community.”

“GE’s decision to bring 300 new, high-tech jobs to New Orleans is a major coup for our city,” said Mayor Landrieu. “GE is an international business leader, and this announcement is a decisive show of confidence in our city’s business climate. I look forward to having a community partner here like GE that is rooted in renewing and strengthening our country’s global competitiveness through innovation and manufacturing. This project adds to the momentum we have seen locally and is a product of the unmatched coordination and partnership between the city, the state, and local economic development agencies and private businesses, including GNO Inc., the New Orleans Business Alliance, and Ochsner.”

“We applaud GE for choosing New Orleans as its most recent location to add jobs to the American economy,” said Rod Miller, CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “GE joins the long list of companies who have chosen to make a home in New Orleans. The choice by a Fortune 100 company like GE to put high paying jobs in New Orleans is a testament to the quality of the workforce and the business environment of the city. Gov. Jindal and Mayor Landrieu’s leadership, paired with the dedication of our resilient community, has put New Orleans on the top of business leaders’ agenda and resulted in the region and state outperforming national economic trends over the last five years. This is another example of the community coming together to cement this positive trend into economic value by attracting jobs and capital investment.”

Since Gov. Jindal and the Louisiana State Legislature enhanced Louisiana’s Digital Media Incentive Program in Summer 2009, Louisiana has had the second-fastest growing information sector in the country in both absolute and percentage job growth terms. The project extends a streak of significant digital media wins for Louisiana, including interactive entertainment sites for EA in Baton Rouge and Gameloft in New Orleans, along with corporate headquarters expansions by CenturyLink in Monroe and Schumacher Group in Lafayette.

To secure the GE Capital project, LED developed a customized incentive package that includes a $10.7 million performance-based grant to reimburse certain costs associated with relocation, recruitment, office refurbishment, lease expenses, and office equipment. Additionally, LED committed to provide $500,000 per year for 10 years to fund enhanced software development-focused academic programs in New Orleans to be provided by one or more Louisiana higher education institutions. These programs will be developed in a collaborative process including LED, GE Capital, and higher-education leaders, with a focus on growing the future software development talent pipeline in the area. GE Capital also is expected to apply for the state’s Quality Jobs incentive program.

“Even as our state is entering a renaissance period in its energy and chemical industries, we are continuing to aggressively cultivate new industries like software development that will help diversify our economy and speed up our growth,” said Secretary Moret. “Major recent business investments in the New Orleans area like GE Capital, Gameloft, Folgers, Blade Dynamics, and Nucor, combined with innovative education reforms, a thriving post-Katrina entrepreneurial sector and a growing biomedical district anchored by the new LSU research hospital mark an inflection point in the history of New Orleans. For the first time in decades, New Orleans is becoming a significant location for job growth and business investment, and that will help lift not only Southeast Louisiana but our whole state as well.”