Drug maker to leave Connecticut, cut hundreds of jobs

New Haven

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – A biopharmaceutical company is pulling out of of multiple U.S. locations, including Connecticut, and transferring hundreds of jobs.

On Tuesday, Bristol-Myers Squibb confirmed previously announced plans to shut down its research and development center in Wallingford by the end of 2018. The company also plans to close its Hopewell, New Jersey location as well as its Seattle, Washington location within the next few years.

Under its original plans, the drug maker had considered keeping 500 jobs in the state, but on Tuesday, Bristol-Myers Squibb confirmed it would no longer keep those jobs in Connecticut.

The ripple effect of these decisions were immediately felt.

Alan Kendrix, who is a Geese Control Specialist with No Geese Today, and his border collie, Bear, are contracted to walk the Bristol-Myers Squibb campus.

“I’m a geese herder,” said Kendrix.  “I keep the geese off of the their property with my dog, Bear.”

For Kendrix, the announcement means losing a client.

“I don’t know what it will mean for me and how long I will continue to have this property,” said Kendrix. “It’s not my only property, you know, (but) it’s sad for me.”

The ripple effect continues across the street to the Connecticut Food Bank.

“They have a regular volunteer staff that comes in on a regular basis to help sort the food that comes out to all the people so we will definitely miss them,” said Sharon Turlis, who works in Procurement at the Connecticut Food Bank.  “So, it’s kind of sad for us.”

Connecticut had held out hope that the pharmaceutical company would keep hundreds of jobs here until this weeks announcement.

How many people will be unemployed is hard to calculate.  The company said it intends to move many of the jobs from the Wallingford, Hopewell, and Seattle locations to other offices in the U.S but the company would not specify how many people would be transferred.

Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Caforio M.D. said the changes are part of the company’s plan to remain competitive.

These important changes to our U.S. geographic footprint will ensure we have the structural, operational and financial flexibility to deliver as effectively as possible on our mission for patients. Today’s announcement underscores our commitment to make the right investments to continue to deliver on the promise of our pipeline and to bring transformational medicines to patients, today and in the future.”

News 8 spoke with Lisa McCormick Lavery about the changes to the company, including why Bristol-Myers Squibb chose to make these moves over the next few years.

The changes to our U.S. footprint are consistent with the evolution of the company’s operating model, and follow previously announced investments to modernize workspace. We looked at our current U.S. sites and made decisions to focus resources at locations in the heart of vibrant ecosystems of academia, world-class science, innovation and business opportunities. These changes will ensure we have the structural, operational and financial flexibility to deliver as effectively as possible on our mission for patients. Our decisions will focus our resources, simplify our work and integrate our efforts based on the needs of our business and the size of our company – today and in the future.

As part of the evolution of our operating model announced in October, we are in the process of evaluating the roles and work within all functions based on changes to the needs of our business, our geographic presence and broader decisions in support of our Company Transformation. Specific to the announcements yesterday, we expect many of the roles from Connecticut, Hopewell and Seattle will transition to other U.S. locations, with specific details evolving over the next several years.

We currently have approximately 700 employees in Wallingford.  We opened the Wallingford research facility in 1986.

In reaction to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s announcement, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith issued the following statement Tuesday morning:

This news is disappointing for all in Connecticut, but especially to the impacted workers and their families.  We have been in contact with Bristol-Myers Squibb officials regarding options to retain a substantial presence in the state, however it became apparent during our recent meetings that this decision was part of a broader company-wide restructuring that would impact operations across the U.S.”

When it comes to the plus and minus column for jobs in Connecticut, many see this as a loss.

“Well, it’s another company that unfortunately is moving out of the state and out of the city and it will definitely financially affect us and that’s sad,” said Turlis.

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