Pfizer Plant Shutdowns: A Punch to the Gut

Michigan was hit hard this week after Pfizer announced its plan to cut 10,000 jobs globally and close at least five facilities as part of an effort to trim annual costs by up to $2 billion by the end of next year.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has said publicly that Pfizer’s plans to slash nearly 2,400 jobs in her state is like “a punch to the gut.”

Pfizer will close its research site in Ann Arbor (2,100 workers) and eliminate all scientific research jobs in Kalamazoo (250 workers).

However, the company says it will continue its manufacturing and animal health presence in Michigan.

Efforts are already underway to keep the workers in Michigan.

For example, in Kalamazoo, some economic officials started what they call the “Boomerang Campaign” to retain the 250 workers. These skilled workers, who will be phased out of Pfizer by 2008, test second-stage human-healthcare drug compounds.

Trying to convince the Kalamazoo workers to stay employed in the area, the regional economic-development organization Southwest Michigan First plans to meet Friday with representatives of local life-science companies and other businesses to recruit the affected Pfizer workers or persuade them to start local businesses in the area.

“We are meeting with about 50 representatives from about 30 companies,” says Southwest Michigan First’s CEO Ronald Kitchens.

“The most important thing is our people. The goal is to say, ‘Who do you know?’ to colleagues and associates. It’s going to be a long campaign but worth it, since those services are still needed in the area. The next 90 days are the most critical in that component,” says Kitchens.

He points out that Pfizer didn’t say the life-sciences services are no longer needed, but rather that the company would no longer be doing it.

“If we are going to be globally competitive, we need key scientific minds in our community,” he says.

Kitchens says the workers, with whom he will have a direct relationship, are “incredible and talented.”

“We care about the people first, so I want our neighbors to have the maximum opportunity to take care of their families,” he says.

On Monday, Kitchens will travel to Ann Arbor to meet with Ann Arbor Spark, a similar economic organization that will be holding a public forum for affected Pfizer workers and community leaders.

In Ann Arbor, a city that Forbes magazine named the “third-smartest” city in America, Pfizer is the city’s biggest taxpayer.

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Ann Arbor Speak will be working hard to prevent any of that “brain drain” from its city. In addition to Monday’s meeting, the organization has posted on its website online career services, including positions available within other life-sciences organizations.

Other Cities Affected

In Omaha, Nebraska, the company says it will close a small animal health facility that employs 25 people. (An animal vaccine plant in Lincoln that employs between 700 and 800 people will remain open.)

In New York, Pfizer will shut down its 660,000-square foot Brooklyn manufacturing plant — and home of the drug company’s founding in 1849 — and phase out 600 jobs by the end of 2008.

Internationally, Pfizer says it is proposing to close research sites in Nagoya, Japan and Amboise, France, and may sell a manufacturing site in Feucht, Germany.

By next year, Pfizer’s network of manufacturing plants around the world will be reduced to 48. At one time, the company had 93 such manufacturing plants.

The Trickle Effect

Other locations that were not directly impacted by the company’s announcement this week may still feel after effects.

For example, the company’s La Jolla, California, campus — which employs 1,000 people — will now no longer focus on virology, but will become Pfizer’s main center for cancer research. All virology research will move to a facility in England.

In St. Louis, Pfizer’s facility will consolidate its cardiovascular research, and asthma and respiratory research to operations to Groton, Connecticut, and Sandwich, England, respectively. The facility, with 1,147 employees, will now serve as the consolidation site for all other facilities’ inflammation research.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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