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SABIC Gives $1M Endowment To United Way Ahead Of Pittsfield Departure

SABIC's Bob Basila Senior Director for Procurement for the Americas Region presents Berkshire United Way CEO Kristine Hazzard with a plaque commemorating the company's $1 million endowment gift at SABIC's Plastics Avenue facility in Pittsfield, Mass.
Jim Levulis
/
WAMC
SABIC's Bob Basila Senior Director for Procurement for the Americas Region presents Berkshire United Way CEO Kristine Hazzard with a plaque commemorating the company's $1 million endowment gift at SABIC's Plastics Avenue facility in Pittsfield, Mass.

SABIC, a major employer in the Berkshires, announced a $1 million endowment for the Berkshire United Way today ahead of the company’s exit from Pittsfield.Bob Basila, a senior director with SABIC, presented a plaque commemorating the gift to Berkshire United Way CEO Kristine Hazzard at the company’s Pittsfield facility Friday.

“In honor of the agency’s work to make Berkshire County a community of hope and opportunity where every individual and family lives, works and thrives,” said Basila.

Headquartered in Saudi Arabia, SABIC manufactures chemicals, commodity and high-performance plastics and metals. Hazzard says the endowment is a huge boost to the nonprofit’s other investments that total about $500,000. She says it’s bittersweet as SABIC plans to vacate its Plastics Avenue site, which is owned by General Electric, by the end of 2016.

“What it also does for us though, I appreciate it was an endowment and not just an outright gift, is we have to live with our new reality,” Hazzard said. “We have to figure out what that looks like and what that means. So we have to continue what we’ve done which is to be sure we’re investing in really good services, programs and initiatives that have results.”

Hazzard says a main focus will be early childhood literacy along with youth development and family financial stability.

“We have a brand new program, it’s called a workplace resource coordinator,” Hazzard said. “It’s a person who will go into workplaces where we have campaigns and help employees who are having various problems that their HR department probably doesn’t want to get involved because it could be a variety of things creating financial strains and are confidential.”

In the fall of 2015, SABIC announced it would leave the facility in the middle of 2016 as a part of relocation to Houston. Americas Regional Vice President Greg Adams says the gift is part of the transition process.

“Corporate social responsibility is one of the pillars of SABIC’s strategy,” Adams said. “We want to be a good citizen in all the communities we operate in. We thought this was a nice tribute to the Berkshires and Berkshire United Way as we go through this change we’re going through in the company.”

Hazzard says SABIC has given more than $2.5 million through Berkshire United Way since the company’s purchase of GE Plastics in 2007. Employees have also volunteered with a number of boards and campaigns. She says the endowment will help fill the impending void created by SABIC’s departure for the nonprofit, which had roughly $2.3 million in assets as of 2015.

“There are also SABIC employees who are staying local for various reasons, either found other jobs or whatever, so we will continue to work with them,” Hazzard said. “We’re talking to our other campaigns. We’re being very candid about we don’t know how big the hit will be until we go through two or three campaigns before we’re really clear.”

Adams says some of the area’s 300 SABIC employees have already transitioned to the company’s Selkirk, NY site while others are moving to Houston. In December 2015 the company estimated the Polymer Processing Development Center on Merrill Road would close in 2017 once necessary modifications were made in Selkirk.

“At the moment we’re business as usual at the PPDC,” Adams said. “That will be operating for sometime in the Berkshires.” 

In June SABIC gave $90,000 worth of math and science supplies to Berkshire County high schools.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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