GE Capital to pay lease through January 2021, plans 2018 exit under proposed settlement

Big Sky Economic Development and GE Capital officials have reached a proposed lease settlement of the Big Sky’s Center of Excellence building in the West End as the company prepares to remove its operations.

Steve Arveschoug, BSED director, briefed Yellowstone County commissioners on the proposed agreement Monday during a discussion meeting. Arveschoug said the BSED board, which has given preliminary approval, is expected to give final approval at its Thursday meeting.

“We’re being made whole,” Arveschoug said.


The lease buyout expects a January 2018 exit, with GE being obligated for lease payments through January 2021, he said.

GE would provide BSED a lump sum of $3.8 million, based on 37 months, with the money to cover debt service and maintenance and operation costs, Arveschoug said. The payment also would include increased insurance for three years of a vacant building.

In addition, GE will provide up to $600,000 to retrofit the 40,000-square-foot building for a future tenant and be paid on a reimbursement basis, he said.

Arveschoug said he is working to get approval of the proposal from the lenders, which are the Montana Board of Investments and Stockman Bank.

Total debt remaining after 37 months will be about $4 million, a debt BSED must continue to pay. The term runs through 2034.

 BSED owns the building on 3333 Hesper Road, which it built for $9.3 million in 2009 specifically for GE. The company also received about $1.75 million in incentives, mostly funded by taxpayers, to expand in Billings.

The GE Center employed about 200 workers at its peak, had an annual average payroll of about $9 million and generated about $95 million in economic activity through its operations and spin-off jobs.


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