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Study: GE worth $4B a year to Capital Region

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Study: GE worth $4B a year to Capital Region

Each hour in the Capital Region, General Electric helps generate more than $458,000. Each day? $10.9
Study: GE worth $4B a year to Capital Region
The General Electric campus in Schenectady.
Photographer: Stacey Lauren-Kennedy

Each hour in the Capital Region, General Electric helps generate more than $458,000.

Each day? $10.9 million.

Each year? Try $4 billion. Yes, with a “B.”

By the numbers

According to a new study released Thursday by General Electric, the company is responsible for generating $10.99 million a day — or $458,000 per hour — in revenue for the Capital Region as a whole because of its local operations.

Schenectady County

Total economic impact: $1.06 billion

Direct economic impact: $784.6 million

Indirect economic impact: $284.4 million

Total jobs: 6,042

Direct jobs: 3,788

Indirect jobs: 2,254

Total taxes: $36.3 million

Capital Region

Total economic impact: $4 billion

Direct economic impact: $2.4 billion

Indirect economic impact: $1.6 billion

Total jobs: 17,576

Direct jobs: 6,358

Indirect jobs: 11,218

Total taxes: $198.9 million

Top industries impacted by GE’s Schenectady County operations (revenue)

Scientific R&D services: $526.3 million

Turbine and turbine generator set units manufacturing: $280.9 million

Real estate: $25.3 million

Owner-occupied dwellings: $22.7 million

Management of companies/enterprises: $14.1 million

Architectural, engineering, related services: $13.3 million

Hospitals: $12.3 million

Wholesale trade: $11.5 million

Monetary authorities and depository credit intermediation: $10.9 million

Insurance carriers: $9.2 million

Other: $142.6 million

Top 10 industries impacted by GE operations across the Capital Region (jobs)

Turbine and turbine generator set units manufacturing: 3,096 jobs

Scientific R&D services: 2,142 jobs

Real estate: 694 jobs

Full-service restaurants: 618 jobs

Railroad rolling stock manufacturing: 574 jobs

Other aircraft parts and auxiliary equipment manufacturing: 574 jobs

Employment services: 462 jobs

Hospitals: 379 jobs

Wholesale trade: 366 jobs

Legal services: 354 jobs

Other: 8,516 jobs

Total GE economic output in the Capital District by industry segment

Service: $2.56 billion

Manufacturing: $1.14 billion

Trade: $175.9 million

Transportation, information and public utilities: $73.6 million

Government: $33.6 million

Construction: $22.6 million

Agriculture: $1.04 million

Mining: $835,234

That’s according to the first-ever economic impact study of the company’s operations across the Capital Region. The global powerhouse commissioned private research firm Tripp Umbach to study its effect — both direct and indirect — on the region where it all started more than a century ago.

GE employs just a fraction of what it once did during its local heyday. During World War II, more than 40,000 workers in Schenectady churned out war equipment for the company. Today, GE employs 3,788 in Schenectady County, but it’s also expanded its presence to the nearby counties of Albany and Saratoga for 6,358 total jobs in the Capital Region. If you count indirect employment, or jobs created because of GE operations, its total employment reaches 6,042 in Schenectady and 17,576 across the entire region, the study says.

“We just thought, it’s been a long time, more than a century,” said Jeff Connelly, vice president of global supply chain for GE Power & Water. “And we’ve had a lot of changes over the last 10 or 15 years here in our operations and we just felt like now was as good a time as any to measure the impact we have on the community.”

The study measured GE’s footprint in Schenectady, Albany and Saratoga counties, where most of its local employees live and work. GE Power & Water, headquartered in Schenectady along with GE Renewables and GE Power Generation, and GE Global Research, headquartered in Niskayuna, account for most of the impact. GE Licensing and GE Healthcare also have operations in the region.

The $4 billion economic impact on the Capital Region is direct and indirect, including such things as spending by staff, visitors, vendors or suppliers and re-spending of those dollars throughout households and the regional economy. Directly, GE has a $2.4 billion economic impact on the region. Indirectly, it has a $1.6 billion impact, the study said. In Schenectady County alone, it has a $1.06 billion economic impact — $784.6 million of that direct and $284.4 million indirect, the report says.

“We want our employees to know and be proud of the fact that they represent a company that has such an impact not only on their own lives, but on the lives of so many suppliers, vendors and others,” Connelly said.

The study also looked at GE’s contribution to local and state tax revenues, both directly (the taxes GE pays) and indirectly (income, sales, property, corporate income and capital stock/franchise taxes generated because of business GE conducts in the state). All told, GE was responsible for $198.9 million in local and state tax revenue last year, the study found. In Schenectady County alone, the amount was $36.3 million.

A major economic driver — not just locally but globally — is GE Global Research, which employs more than 3,000 scientists, engineers and researchers worldwide. Most of them — about 2,000 — are located in Niskayuna. From 2010-14, GE filed for an average of 253 patents a year as a result of work done in Niskayuna. The research has led to many GE spinoff businesses, including four in the local area: GE Fuel Cells, GE Licensing, GE Healthcare and GE Energy Storage.

One of them, GE Energy Storage, was not so long ago heralded as the next big thing for GE. It was expected to create 450 new jobs and GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt even predicted it would be the company’s next billion-dollar business. But earlier this year, after nearly four years in operation, GE Energy Storage cut production and reduced the workforce at its Schenectady battery plant significantly. There were no layoffs, but more than 50 hourly employees took buyouts and more than 200 were transferred to the steam turbine and generator manufacturing operation in Schenectady.

That business is thriving, both company and union officials have said. Much of the work is related to a $2.7 billion deal with Algeria dating to 2013, one of the largest orders the Schenectady facility has ever seen.

“Net jobs here are up in the last few years,” Connelly said. “There’s no magic, secret recipe to this. This is a very, very brutal and competitive market, and yet we still manage to win, and this site and its work ethic is why. So I’m pleased that we did this report, because I think for the first time it’s a true reflection of our total impact in the region.”

The Capital Region could benefit even more if GE’s $13.9 billion bid to buy most of French conglomerate Alstom’s energy business is approved this year, Connelly said. He declined to say how, but said it offers growth opportunities for Schenectady.

“I believe very strongly all boats will rise under this plan, and that includes Schenectady,” he said.

Tripp Umbach measured GE’s local impact in other ways, too. For example, GE, its foundation and its employees donated more than $4.7 million to local community organizations in the region last year. Much of this was due to a dollar-for-dollar match the foundation makes on employee contributions. GE employees also put in 47,000 volunteer hours last year, the study shows.

Noticeably absent from the report was any mention of GE’s capacitor plant in Fort Edward in Washington County. It announced in 2013 that it would close the plant after nearly 70 years there, displacing 200 workers.

GE spokeswoman Katie Roberts Jackson said the report was limited to Schenectady, Albany and Saratoga counties in an effort to crunch data in a reasonable time.

GE has commissioned similar economic impact studies for other regions where it has robust operations, including Erie, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, among others. The company declined to disclose how much it paid for the study, but said it was in the thousands of dollars.

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