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The Banks Cincy

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GE chooses The Banks for new operations center

General Electric will build its new global operations center for up to 2,000 workers at The Banks on Cincinnati’s riverfront.

Multiple sources confirmed Wednesday that GE’s months-long evaluation of other possible sites ended this week with a decision to build the coveted office complex in the heart of Cincinnati.

GE officials declined comment Wednesday, but they said in April they would consolidate several of the company’s administrative offices into one location in Greater Cincinnati. The top three contenders to land the new center were The Banks, Oakley and Mason.

The choice of The Banks is a major breakthrough for the city, which has been looking for a major corporate tenant for years to anchor the sprawling residential and commercial development.

GE officials have said they could move some employees to downtown Cincinnati early next year while the company waits for its new offices to be built at the new location.

The center, which will house administrators, accountants, technicians and other office personnel, is expected to produce about 1,400 jobs and an annual payroll of $111 million in its first few years of operation. The company has said the number of employees could climb as high as 2,000.

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Southwest Ohio’s bid for the center didn’t come cheap: The state’s Tax Credit Authority last month approved an 85 percent job creation tax credit for the project covering 15 years.

That translates into a reimbursement of more than $51 million to GE if it produces all of the promised jobs. Other tax breaks and enticements through local governments also are likely to be part of the deal.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials, as well as local business leaders, were hesitant to discuss GE’s choice Wednesday, although they said a formal announcement is expected soon.

City Councilman Charlie Winburn, chairman of council’s budget and finance committee, said he believes it will “play a major role in this matter on Monday.”

The committee is made up of all members of council and could represent approval of the financial plan offered to GE. Details of that plan have never been released.

Many local officials and business leaders have privately lobbied for The Banks because of its importance to downtown development and the years-long search for a big corporate tenant.

Winburn said he preferred Oakley, but he understands the appeal of The Banks and its importance to the city.

“I am just elated they would consider going to The Banks and picked the city of Cincinnati,” Winburn said.

GE already has a strong presence in Greater Cincinnati, with more than 9,000 employees at GE Aviation’s headquarters in Evendale, just north of Cincinnati. The operations center is not connected to GE Aviation, however, and will instead be tied to the Fairfield, Conn.-based parent company.

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GE is No. 8 on the Fortune 500 rankings and is one of the world’s largest and best-known companies, with more than 300,000 employees and sales of more than $147 billion.

The company is seeking as much as 400,000 square feet for its new operations center so it will have room to grow.

Most of the jobs coming to the center — coveted high-salary positions local officials say are crucial to the long-term health of the local economy — will relocate from elsewhere in the United States, but about 300 new jobs also will be created, company officials have said.

Downtown Cincinnati, for its part, has lost thousands of jobs in the past decade, often to surrounding suburbs. Winning the bid for GE’s new operations center gives Downtown a new corporate tenant and the company a high-profile presence in the heart of the city.