August 20, 2014

GE life sciences division coming to Marlborough, will employ hundreds

General Electric has settled on Marlborough as the home of its health care and life sciences division, the company announced Wednesday morning.

The company, which ranks ninth on the Fortune 500, said its GE Healthcare Life Sciences division is moving its headquarters from New Jersey and making a $21-million long-term investment in a 160,000-square-foot facility which, when fully operational, will house more than 500 "highly skilled" employees and bring more than 220 jobs to Central Massachusetts.

The division will be located in Marlborough Hills, just south of Route 20 and west of Interstate 495, close to the Northborough border. The building, at 200 Forest St., formerly housed local operations for Hewlett-Packard. Quest Diagnostics, which provides clinical laboratory services, was to occupy part of the building upon moving into Marlborough this year.

The space will be transformed into state-of-the-art labs, customer application facilities, and office space, the company said in its announcement, and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2015.

Division has Westborough operations

The $4 billion division, whose formal name is GE Healthcare Life Sciences, will consolidate its East Coast presence with the move, it said. The division already has a manufacturing facility in Westborough, which will not be impacted by the announcement. However, GE's healthcare group, located at the former site of Xcellerex, which GE acquired in 2012, will relocate to Marlborough Hills, according to Ben Fox, a spokesman for GE Healthcare. As part of the move from its current headquarters in Piscataway, N.J., 218 employees who do not relocate to Marlborough will be let go, Fox said.

The division employs more than 11,500 employees in over 100 countries, the company said.

"Our new facility … will position us for continued innovation and competition in such a fast-paced, innovative industry," Kieran Murphy, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Life Sciences, said. "We will be close to industry-leading talent, customers, and world-class academic and medical institutions across all the industry sectors we serve, from biotech and pharma, to diagnostics and medical devices."

In the same statement, Gov. Deval Patrick said the state is "pleased that the company will create a substantial number of new, STEM-related job opportunities in Central Massachusetts."

"Today, Massachusetts' life sciences sectors are the fastest-growing sectors of our economy," Patrick added.

Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), said that aside from the economic boost that comes with GE's move, the news "continues to signal that Central Massachusetts has a very important role to play" in the growth of the life sciences industry in the Bay State.

Mayor: 'Significant milestone'

Meanwhile, Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant applauded the announcement, calling his city a "center for innovation." GE's move is "proof that innovation is thriving outside Route 128, and (and indicator) of Marlborough's ability to build the necessary infrastructure to attract top tier, global life sciences companies."

"The arrival of GE Healthcare Life Sciences ... represents a significant milestone in our community's economic renaissance," Vigeant added in a separate statement. "As a leading life sciences company, Marlborough will have a front-row seat as they continue to develop innovative life changing technologies."

Timothy Cummings, executive director of the Marlborough Economic Development Corp., said his office and the mayor's had been working with GE for more than a year on bringing the division to the city. Windham-Bannister said GE's move does not carry financial incentives.

Media reports last week said GE had settled on the Bay State as its life sciences headquarters, but no location was announced until today.

"We did take the time to explore numerous other options in and around Boston," Fox said in an email response to questions from the Worcester Business Journal. "We landed (in) Marlborough because it is a center for innovation and is within easy commuting distance from a number of desirable residential locations attractive to current and future employees.

"This location gives us the ability to build world-class office, laboratory and manufacturing facilities and attract top talent to the community."

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