Opinion

Bringing a good thing to Lynn

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General Electric is bringing good things to life by breaking ground on its new headquarters in the former warehouse district near Boston’s South Station. Gov. Baker, quoted by the State House News Service on Monday, called the groundbreaking “one more step forward in the continuing evolution of Massachusetts as a global player.” What does GE’s big plans for Boston mean to the North Shore, specifically, Lynn?

A GE executive on Monday said the firm is looking forward to forging collaborations with area community colleges. Thinking about that comment in the context of North Shore Community College and Salem State University spurs excitement and inspiration.

General Electric’s aviation manufacturing presence in Lynn helped write the city’s history and the River Works plant is still a major city employer. Imagine if GE’s 21st century commitment to evolving technologies takes on life in Boston and expands outward, swamping the North Shore and Lynn with brilliant minds and the economic ramifications of their inventions?

GE Vice President Ann Klee employed high-tech jargon Monday when she was quoted by the News Service praising Boston’s “great innovation ecosystem.” She used that phrase to explain why it made sense for GE to move its headquarters.

That explanation can be interpreted in different ways. The most obvious interpretation is that GE finds Boston to be an attractive location because of the large number of universities and associated research facilities in the city.

By extension, Cambridge and Route 128 for decades have attracted research and development manufacturers tapping into Boston’s academic brainpower to fuel their production. Lynn’s River Works, at first glance, conjures up images of skilled factory workers making jet engines. But a deeper look at the West Lynn plant reveals engineers designing next-generation engines and facilities potentially becoming future sites for the “innovation ecosystem” highlighted by Klee.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton has talked about the River Work’s value as a possible location for technology-oriented businesses incubated in Boston and searching for affordable space where they can grow and prosper.Congress

Moulton is an imaginative thinker but his ideas are rooted in a business background; before winning a seat in Congress, the Marine veteran focused his boundless energy on the high-speed rail industry. Rail transportation is an industry GE has helped to expand and it is an important component of the type of transportation-driven economy Moulton and state Sen. Thomas M. McGee frequently highlight.

The News Service on Monday reported how state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, worked with other top officials under the codename “Project Plum” in 2015 to woo GE to Boston.

Ash is well aware of Lynn’s economic potential and it is not a stretch to imagine him pointing GE in Lynn’s direction once company executives decide how communities around Boston can benefit from the headquarters relocation.

With North Shore Community College stepping onto the technological cutting edge by expanding its Lynn campus and Lynn schools working for years with River Works volunteers, Lynn is poised to benefit from GE’s decision to make Boston the center of its corporate universe.

 

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