Vermont's business and government leaders are determined to do whatever they can to maintain employment at the IBM plant outside Burlington.
International Business Machines Inc., ensconced in Essex Junction for decades and with satellite operations in Williston, is reportedly looking to unload its computer chip-making division.
The potential sale likely would include the company's Vermont facilities - and could jeopardize the jobs of an estimated 4,000 people who work there.
"We are primarily concerned with the well-being of the 8,000 Vermonters whose jobs and economic well-being is as a result of the IBM operations in Vermont and IBM investments in Vermont," said Frank Cioffi, president of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp.
At a press conference Monday in Burlington, Cioffi unveiled a series of recommended steps for the state to take to address the possible sale.
"GBIC sees imminent and adverse risks without the State of Vermont's support of the current IBM Vermont Operations and Campus and for a successor enterprise should a sale occur," he wrote in "IBM Vermont: The Vermont Plan." The action plan includes both immediate steps and wish lists for the next legislative session.
IBM is Vermont's largest private employer, even after halving its workforce from about 8,000 in 2001 to an estimated 4,000 today. In addition to those workers, Cioffi said, an additional 4,000 families are tied to the site through the ripple effect of its economic impact.
His focus now is on keeping the anchor employer rather than contingency planning for the possibility the plant may close.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Peter Shumlin acknowledged GBIC's efforts and underscored the same goal.
"We'll do whatever it takes to make sure that we fight for all the jobs that we have now and more in the future," Shumlin said.