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Leaders to brainstorm solutions to Pfizer closing

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Statements from the Jan. 22 news conference>

Local leaders representing business, government, higher education and the greater Ann Arbor community will come together next week to develop a response to the Jan. 22 announcement that Pfizer, Inc. will close its Ann Arbor facility.

President Mary Sue Coleman vowed to work with local and state leaders to help keep Pfizer employees in Michigan, following the company's Jan. 22 announcement that it will close its Ann Arbor research operation. In addition to Coleman others who committed to help devise a strategy for coping with the layoffs were MichBio President Steve Rapundalo, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje. Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services

President Mary Sue Coleman, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Ann Arbor SPARK President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Finney will be among the state and local leaders who will meet to map out a strategy for creating new jobs, encouraging spinoff companies and brainstorming other creative ways to address the impending loss of 2,100 Pfizer jobs in Ann Arbor. SPARK is an economic development and marketing organization that serves the greater Ann Arbor area.

The nation’s largest drug company told employees it plans to close the Ann Arbor research facility, its human health research site in Kalamazoo and a small research facility in Plymouth Township. Job losses in the state will total 2,350 with layoffs to be complete by 2008. The company has said that a number of those affected will be relocated to other Pfizer operations.

"This is very difficult news for our region. Pfizer and its predecessors have been a positive force in our community for decades, and we have all benefited from these relationships,” Coleman said the day of the announcement.

"I have reached out to the governor and city leadership to offer my support as we look ahead. Southeast Michigan has many resources, including Ann Arbor SPARK, to plan for and encourage the development of new business opportunities as well as attracting existing businesses that might be interested in the talent pool and facilities that will become available. We want to do all we can in partnership with the state and region to encourage such activity."

During the announcement, Pfizer officials said the ailing Michigan economy was not to blame for the decision to cut jobs, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm called the announcement a “punch to the gut.” At a time when the state is trying to emphasize biomedical research as one of the means to economic recovery, the governor said it will be important for the region to retain the skilled employees from Pfizer.

“We’re going to have a whole ‘Stick Around Ann Arbor’ campaign for these employees, because we want them to stay here,” Granholm said.

Pfizer recently reported significant financial losses, which it blamed in part on patent expirations on some of its name-brand drugs that created competition from makers of less expensive generics. Pfizer said the Michigan layoffs were part of a restructuring that involved 10,000 jobs worldwide at a savings of as much as $2 billion.

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