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In some other communities where Pfizer operates, when the worst happened — the closing of a plant — the company softened the blow by working with local officials. When a Pfizer research and development facility shut down in Skokie, Ill., more than four years ago, the company found a buyer who developed the property as a science-and-technology industrial park, just as the city’s leaders wished.

Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler did not predict the fate of the Vigo County plant Thursday. In the aftermath of the Exubera shutdown, Kindler said the corporation “will explore alternatives for sites and employees.”

Despite the uncertainty, Pfizer’s 60-year track record of responsible involvement and commitment in the Vigo County community offers a legitimate ray of hope that its local plant will survive this difficult moment, adapt to the market changes, and once again become the production base for new and exciting products.

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Published: October 18, 2007 08:30 pm    print this story   email this story  

TRIBUNE-STAR EDITORAL: Pfizer’s track record provides ray of hope on sad day

Company has history as good corporate neighbor

TERRE HAUTE No aspect of Thursday’s sad news surrounding the local Pfizer Inc. plant could be considered positive.

Just a few years ago, that company’s innovative inhaled-insulin drug, Exubera, looked like a boon to the local economy. Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical firm, chose its Vigo County plant as the sole producer of Exubera. The firm invested more than $300 million in the local facility. Pfizer added 400 employees for the project. They began making the first new insulin product since that hormone was discovered nearly 80 years ago. Diabetes patients finally had an alternative to painful injections.

Exubera, taken from the word “exuberance,” fit the excitement it generated in this community’s economic circles.

But the drug failed to win over doctors and their patients. Sales proved disappointing. Then on Thursday morning, Pfizer officials announced the company was halting Exubera production. Six-hundred of the local plant’s 750 employees were placed on paid leave. The plant’s other 150 workers will, for now, continue to produce two antibiotics.

A statement by company spokesman Rick Chambers does not ease the concerns of the Wabash Valley community. “We’ve not made a decision on the future of the plant,” he said. “We’re going to take some time to review our options on it.”

If the thinnest of silver linings exists, it is that Pfizer’s long reputation as a good corporate neighbor could help Vigo County make the best of a rough situation. The plant, with a payroll estimated at $25.3 million in 2005, has been a source of good-paying jobs since it acquired the grounds of a World War II-era ordnance plant in 1947 and began making antibiotics there a year later. Today, Pfizer contributes heavily to the county’s tax base, and to local charities and programs. In terms of taxes, the plant accounts for 1.8 percent of Vigo County’s total assessed valuation and will pay $344,007 in taxes this year. As for its benevolence, in 2006 its employees donated $221,572 to the United Way of the Wabash Valley, and an added gift from the Pfizer corporation boosted its overall contribution to $440,000. That offering amounted to an impressive 21 percent of the local United Way’s 2006 donations.

In some other communities where Pfizer operates, when the worst happened — the closing of a plant — the company softened the blow by working with local officials. When a Pfizer research and development facility shut down in Skokie, Ill., more than four years ago, the company found a buyer who developed the property as a science-and-technology industrial park, just as the city’s leaders wished.

Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler did not predict the fate of the Vigo County plant Thursday. In the aftermath of the Exubera shutdown, Kindler said the corporation “will explore alternatives for sites and employees.”

Despite the uncertainty, Pfizer’s 60-year track record of responsible involvement and commitment in the Vigo County community offers a legitimate ray of hope that its local plant will survive this difficult moment, adapt to the market changes, and once again become the production base for new and exciting products.

print this story   email this story  


In some other communities where Pfizer operates, when the worst happened — the closing of a plant — the company softened the blow by working with local officials. When a Pfizer research and development facility shut down in Skokie, Ill., more than four years ago, the company found a buyer who developed the property as a science-and-technology industrial park, just as the city’s leaders wished.

Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler did not predict the fate of the Vigo County plant Thursday. In the aftermath of the Exubera shutdown, Kindler said the corporation “will explore alternatives for sites and employees.”

Despite the uncertainty, Pfizer’s 60-year track record of responsible involvement and commitment in the Vigo County community offers a legitimate ray of hope that its local plant will survive this difficult moment, adapt to the market changes, and once again become the production base for new and exciting products.

print this story   email this story  



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