IBM Makes Big Investment, Future in Vermont Unclear

Published 07/10 2014 06:53PM

Updated 07/10 2014 07:18PM

ESSEX, Vt. – IBM’s union group says they’re expecting Big Blue to announce the sale of its Vermont plant soon.

Alliance@IBM spokesperson Lee Conrad says he’s heard the company is preparing to sell its chip making plants in Essex, VT and Fishkill, NY to GlobalFoundries.

We reached out to IBM and GlobalFoundries for comment but they did not return our emails or phone calls.

But businesses in the Essex area are waiting and watching to see what happens. Jake Tran owns The Firebird Café and says his restaurant felt the sting of recent IBM layoffs.

We have regular customers that will be IBM and then you don't see them,” Tran said.

So he stays up to date with the latest on Big Blue. Tran is hopeful that if IBM sells the plant it could mean more security for employees who work there.

“It may not be a big layoff,” Tran said.

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Labor Department say if the plant is sold they could help train IBM employees to work for the new company.

If any IBM employees are laid off there are also programs to help them get training for new jobs or even start their own business.

“We have a pretty significant funding base to assist dislocated workers,” Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said.

IBM announced Wednesday it's investing $3 billion in computer chip research and development. The Essex plant manufactures chips. The news sparked hope from some in state government.

“The announcement that IBM plans to invest $3 billion in research and development in the coming years is welcome news. It’s not clear what, if any, impact this announcement will have on the Vermont plant. Regardless, the investment signals that IBM is positioning itself for the next generation of microchip development and production, which is good news for the strength of the company, the future of its workers, and IBM’s contribution to the national economy,” Governor Peter Shumlin said in a statement.

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