By WILSON RING
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ Vermont state and business leaders breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday after learning that micro-chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries was taking over IBM’s micro-chip plant that has operated for decades in Essex Junction.
Gov. Peter Shumlin said at a news conference that the plan by California-based GlobalFoundries to take over the plant is a testament to the more than 4,000 people who work there.
“This is an opportunity for Vermont. It’s an opportunity for us to reaffirm our place in the world as a semi-conductor manufacturer and research and development state,” Shumlin said, while holding up a smartphone. “Let’s remember that the demand for these chips that we make in Essex Junction is robust, that you can’t possibly buy a decent gadget like this without having at least one and sometimes eight or nine chips made right here in Vermont.”
The deal ended months of uncertainty about the future of the plant, one of Vermont’s largest employers.
Chief Executive Sanjay Jha said in a telephone conference call Monday that GlobalFoundries has no plans for layoffs in Vermont or New York.
“We plan to offer substantially all employees at East Fishkill and Burlington, Vermont, a job at Globalfoundries. We have no plans for layoffs or plans for shutting the fabs down,” Jha said using the industry slang for a semi-conductor fabrication plant. “Of course, fabs have to stay competitive over the long term. But that is our commitment.”
Under the deal announced Monday, IBM is going to pay GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion to take over its semiconductor operations in Vermont and New York. For the next 10 years, GlobalFoundries will become IBM’s exclusive provider of certain classes of semiconductors.
The plant in Vermont was founded in 1957 and once employed more than 8,000 people. Shumlin said he and his predecessors had worried about the plant’s fate as IBM shed jobs in the semi-conductor business and re-aligned its priorities.
“It’s excellent news that they intend to keep the plant open,” said George Tyler, president of the Essex Junction village trustees. “It certainly was a concern of ours and has been a concern for the last year. Nevertheless, it is a seismic shift for our community. We have been an IBM community for half a century.”
Shumlin said business at the plant is strong and it is hiring more workers to meet demand. A job fair was held earlier this month seeking manufacturing operators, technicians, mechanics and engineering professionals. Shumlin said he expects demand to continue and strengthen under GlobalFoundries.