New numbers show what's at stake if IBM sells Vt. plant - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New numbers show what's at stake if IBM sells Vt. plant

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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. - "There is no employer that's ever matched what IBM has done. IBM has basically opened the world to Vermont and Vermont to the world," said Frank Cioffi, the president of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation.

News that IBM may sell its chipmaking operations, including the Essex Junction plant, prompted the GBIC to dig deep into Big Blue's economic impact in Vermont.

"IBM has been an incredible economic contributor," Cioffi said.

GBIC estimates IBM employs about 4,000 people in Vermont. Its study shows that 10,000 families are directly or indirectly supported by IBM. The analysis reveals the plant injects $1 billion into the overall Vermont economy. Losing that, says Cioffi, would set Vermont's economy into a tailspin.

"No economy could sustain the loss of 4,000 jobs," Cioffi said. "It would be catastrophic. It would shock us into a real estate recession and an economic recession worse than the one we are trying to get out of now."

GBIC also looked at what New York is doing to grow and retain companies through tax incentives in the Empire State, and specifically looked at GlobalFoundries, the company reported to be the front-runner in the possible purchase of the Essex Junction plant.

"The jury is out if it would be good news or bad news," Cioffi said. "However, there is an upside to it. GlobalFoundries is an absolutely phenomenal leader in microelectronics research and development and manufacturing, a globally renowned company."

Cioffi says New York provided GlobalFoundries with $1.8 billion in tax incentives. He says Vermont cannot compete with those numbers, but says an expert workforce at IBM and ongoing investments in the Essex Junction campus make it desirable to potential buyers, like GlobalFoundries.

GBIC wants the Shumlin administration to use $5 million in state surplus funds earmarked for business as incentives for IBM. The governor didn't commit to that Wednesday.

"As governor I will do everything I can to keep jobs in Essex Junction and create a future where we see growth and prosperity," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

GBIC plans to share its study and wants Montpelier to come up with other research and development incentives to retain jobs in Essex Junction, whether for IBM or a new company there.

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