BOSTON >> South Boston became the official home of global corporate giant General Electric on Monday morning, as the company opened its interim global headquarters in the city's thriving seaport district.
Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash and Boston Chief of Economic Development John Barros were on hand for a private celebration.
"Today GE's Global Headquarters officially moved to Boston. We're happy to be here!," GE tweeted Monday morning. It later added, "GE and Boston: A heritage rooted in history. A future driven by digital. GE is excited to call Boston its new home."
Between 150 and 200 employees began working Monday out of an interim headquarters on Farnsworth Street, GE spokeswoman Susan Bishop said, and the full transition will be completed in stages by 2018 when GE's permanent headquarters on Necco Court is completed.
The employees working from the interim space are primarily from the legal, finance, marketing, communications and investor relations divisions, Bishop said. GE plans to move employees from its energy services arm, Current by GE, to Boston later this year.
"We're excited to be here and to get to work and get it up and running," Bishop said. "Our people are starting to move into their homes and apartments and are ready to play an active role in community."
Baker, Walsh and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt spoke to employees Monday morning, Bishop said.
Walsh tweeted a photo of the group posing in front of a building with the GE logo by its entrance Monday morning, but the event was private, the mayor's office said. It was not included on either Walsh's or Baker's public schedules.
"Governor Baker was pleased to welcome GE employees to Boston for their first official day of business, and looks forward to continuing to work with GE and Mayor Walsh throughout their transition to Massachusetts' innovation economy," Baker press secretary Billy Pitman said in an email.
Working under the code name "Project Plum," Baker, Walsh, Ash, Barros and others earlier this year lured GE from its sprawling suburban campus in Fairfield, Conn. after the company became unhappy with that state's corporate tax policies.
GE cited Boston's "business ecosystem" as well as access to talent, long-term costs, quality of life for employees and easy connections with other company assets and the world as reasons it chose Boston over other locations for its global headquarters.
When its transition to Boston is completed, in 2018, GE expects to have 800 employees in the Seaport, including 200 corporate staff and 600 digital industrial product managers, designers and developers.
In June, Baker administration officials said GE will buy two buildings on Necco Court from Proctor and Gamble and then sell them to MassDevelopment, a quasi-public state agency. MassDevelopment is expected to make structural improvements and then offer the space to GE for a price. Ash told the News Service in June that some of the up to $120 million in state subsidies set aside for GE will go toward the real estate purchase.
GE has a long history in Pittsfield that began when the company purchased William Stanley's transformer plant in Pittsfield in 1903. The company still owns several buildings here. The city's largest employer for many years, GE announced in 1986 that it planned to close its power transformer division in Pittsfield, a decision that sent shockwaves throughout the city and altered the county's economic future.
GE also maintained the world headquarters for its plastics division in Pittsfield before selling it to Sabic Basic Industries for $11.6 million in 2007. Sabic, which rented most of its campus from GE, announced last October that it was planning to close its Pittsfield facility and move those operations to Houston.