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Governor And Vermont Officials Praise IBM-Global Foundries Deal

WAMC/Pat Bradley

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin was surrounded by Vermont business and political leaders at the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce headquarters to discuss the announcement by IBM early today that it will sell its semiconductor chip manufacturing business — including its plant in Essex Junction, Vermont and another in the Hudson Valley — to Global Foundries.

Governor Shumlin, a Democrat running for re-election, said the news is good for Vermont because IBM has been divesting its semiconductor chip manufacturing and development division, which comprises only one percent of its current business. Shumlin noted that on the other hand, it is Global Foundries’ focus.   “We now have a partnership with Global Foundries from a company that is committed to the semiconductor business both in terms of manufacturing and research and development. The CEO has indicated to me that their hope going forward is to continue to expand and find ways to compete in this business.”

Shumlin said he has been told that employees at the Essex Junction plant will be retained, despite earlier recruitment by Global Foundries to its Malta plant in New York’s Saratoga County.  “Global Foundries has made very clear that they need more employees. That chips that are being manufactured in Malta and Fishkill are different than the technology that we’re developing here. And they very much want to grow that business. In terms of the recruiting efforts,  IBM has contracted with Global Foundries for this technology for the next decade.  So as opposed to competing with each other now they are unified. And that’s great news for Vermont.”

Shumlin emphasized that he is not worried about competition between Global Foundries facilities in the neighboring state.  “Vermont and New York have been competing for IBM jobs for some time. So there’s nothing new about the dynamics between the two states. I’ve got a great relationship with Governor Cuomo and he does with me. But I’m really focused on Vermont. My job is to insure that Vermont has a bright future with Global Foundries and his job is to insure that New York has a bright future with Global Foundries.”

The governor is forming an advisory group of business leaders and members of his administration to monitor the acquisition.  “I wanted a small group of people who understand Chittenden County  understand international business and understand transitions like this to be able to advise me and others in Vermont on how we best insure that Global Foundries has the best possible chance that we can give them  here in Vermont.”

Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Torti says the announcement brings relief after years of rumors over the viability of the facility.   “The employees, their families, the communities in which they live now understand that the plant is not going to be moth-balled. That they are looking for this facility to grow. So from just a fundamental economics point of view that’s good for the region, it’s good for the state of Vermont. This is actually the best news that we could have had. They’re looking to grow employees. They’re looking to make investments here. They’re reaching out to the governor and his administration in a very proactive way, not to shrink but to grow.”

There were no representatives from Global Foundries nor IBM at the morning press conference with Governor Shumlin. They reportedly were meeting with the 4,000 employees at the IBM plant in Essex Junction to explain the sale and transition. The deal was welcomed by Hudson Valley lawmakers including Congressman Chris Gibson and Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, who released statements saying the sale is good news for workers at the East Fishkill plant.  

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