New transition council to help ease closure of Pfizer facilities

PLATTSBURGH - After Pfizer Inc. announced its plans to close three local facilities Nov. 9, it took less than a day for a plan to be formed.

The Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce worked to put together the Pfizer Transition Coordinating Council. The group consists of more than 20 local and state government leaders, the North Country Regional Workforce Investment Board, the chamber, and many other entities, with more anticipated to join. The group held its first meeting Nov. 10.

"I can tell you the conversation was entirely productive," said chamber president Garry C. Douglas. "We didn't spend an hour-and-a-half wringing our hands. Didn't spend an hour-and-a-half beating up on 'woe be us,' or 'darn somebody didn't do something.' We focused immediately on the task at hand in a positive and determined way."

One of the priorities of the council is to "maximize the assistance and support for the impacted employees and their families," Douglas explained. Aside from the usual assistance such as unemployment insurance, the committee is looking into other resources that may be able to help.

The group is also defining the community impact of the facility closures, including property taxes, and sewage and water use.

Economic development and marketing is another task at hand for the council.

"We have reasons to feel good ... as economic developers, because of the quality of the facilities, the quality of the workforce, the quality of the location and the support systems of this community," said Douglas.

During the council's meeting, Pfizer agreed to collaborate with the committee in marketing the facilities.

"We were able to lay the groundwork for turning things around with the Wyeth closure four years ago," Douglas said. "We can't promise that kind of outcome, but this morning started a partnership of the entire council team, with Pfizer, going forward to devise and pursue and engage in the very best and most aggressive possible marketing effort."

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