Douglas defends job growth efforts

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says officials at IBM have assured him that the company has a long term commitment to the state, even though IBM has reduced its workforce at its Essex Junction facility by roughly 8%.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Douglas says the layoffs are the result of a worldwide slowdown in the demand for computer chips and do not reflect IBM’s unhappiness with economic conditions in the state of Vermont:

(Douglas) “My conversations with the company lead me to believe that they have a strong commitment to Vermont. So I think we have a lot to offer with our quality of life, our strong workforce, our commitment to work with the company to insure a successful future. So I think we can be a good home for IBM for a long time to come.”

(Kinzel) Improving the state economy has been the top priority of the Douglas administration and the governor says IBM’s announcement doesn’t indicate that the administration is failing at its primary goal:

(Douglas) “The decisions that are made today are not the result of policy decisions of the last six months. IBM, I believe, would speak very positively about the changes that they’ve seen during the past six or seven months. But the lack of attention to infrastructure and electric rates and the regulatory system over the long ran has made it more difficult for the company to compete in our state. So we can’t turn the clock back but we can position ourselves well for the future. It’s taken us a long time to get in this situation, it’ll take us a long time to get out of it. But I’m determined to get there.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says the state will work aggressively with the federal Department of Labor to insure that a variety of worker retraining programs are implemented as soon as possible.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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