GE leaves Billings, pays lease until 2021

Originally published in the print edition of Yellowstone County News. 

BILLINGS — Preliminary approval was given for an agreement with GE regarding the termination of its lease with Big Sky Economic Development (BSED) by BSED’s joint boards at a special meeting on Wednesday.

The lump sum of the settlement totals $3.8 million, which allows BSED to cover the debt service for 37 months, continue maintenance and insurance, as well as provide potential for incentives for a future tenant or purchaser of the building at 3333 Hesper Road.

GE has been very accommodating in the process of working out an agreement that will put the community “in a strong position as we look to attract new prospects,” BSED Director Steve Arveschoug told members of the sister organizations, Big Sky Economic Development and Big Sky Economic Corporation, as they reviewed the proposed terms. The approval will be confirmed at the regular meeting of the boards on March 9.

BSED recruited GE Capital to Billings in 2008 and part of the incentive package included custom building a facility for the company to lease. GE’s lease on the building expires in January 2021.

In 2015, GE announced that it is divesting itself of all GE Capital business, which included the Center of Excellence in Billings. A portion of its assets was sold to Wells Fargo and another portion to the Bank of Montreal, retaining some 100 jobs in Billings. The transaction also resulted in the Bank of Montreal establishing an office in Billings. About 60 employees remain working for GE as it gradually winds down its Billings operation with the expectation of being finished by the end of 2017. The remaining 60 employees will be released at various times throughout the year and will receive GE severance benefits, which will total some $3.4 million, including education opportunities.

Terms of the lease buyout agreement that BSED has negotiated with GE were… Read full story in Online subscription here.