Pfizer has announced it will close its research and development headquarters in New London. But the pharmaceutical giant says it will not make more significant cuts to its Connecticut workforce.
Pfizer just acquired rival drug company Wyeth, and the reorganization of its research and development arm is driven by that deal. Pfizer spokeswoman Liz Power says the 14 hundred employees in New London will move across the river to Groton.
“We had more than 20 sites around the world, so we had to do a strategic analysis of our real estate holdings so that we could make the best use of our square footage and laboratory space around the world.”
Pfizer built the New London headquarters building in 2001, for an investment of more than $300m. And the city of New London agreed to acquire the nearby neighborhood of Fort Trumbull by eminent domain in order to build a complementary development – the ill-fated plan that lead to the Supreme Court case of Kelo versus New London. City residents had strong views about Pfizer’s departure.
“Pfizer’s going to close down? Guess what, they should have never stole those people’s houses in Fort Trumbull. I guess the city of New London really gets screwed huh?”
“For what they went through to get it I just think it’d be a bad decision to move. I see so much progress here, you know, and it’s just sad, very sad.”
“Obviously it’s awful if they do that. If they pull out obviously economically it’ll be very tough.”
Pfizer says the move will take until the end of 2011, and in the meantime it will explore either a sale or lease of the building. City officials say they were taken by surprise by the announcement – and John Markowitz of the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region says attracting a new tenant may be tough.
“Certainly from the national perspective the state of Connecticut is in a rather poor position when it comes to attracting companies from outside of the state. We generally rank at the bottom or near the bottom when it comes to how expensive the cost of doing business is, the regulatory environment and all that kind of stuff.”
But as to the city itself…. Tony Sheridan, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut says New London can weather this storm.
“You’ve got a lot of strong willed people in New London who will find the right answer for the facility, I’m sure, working with the company and they’re determined. New London is on an upswing. If this was five, eight years ago, I’d feel less positive, but I think New London will ultimately be fine.”
The city of Groton meanwhile has been celebrating the news – it will now be among five different research and development centers for Pfizer around the world.