As one of Connecticut's giant pharma companies announced it will exit the state for good, advocates for the biotech sector said it's vital to try to keep talented workers from Bristol-Myers Squibb in the state. The pharmaceutical company has announced it will shutter its Wallingford campus by the end of 2018.
The New York-based drug maker this summer had already announced a reorganization and layoffs at the site. But that previous statement included the possibility of keeping a presence in Connecticut.
The company now says changes to the needs of its business and its geographic presence will mean a complete closure. It’s thought the move will affect another 500 jobs on top of the layoffs already announced.
Susan Froshauer heads up CURE, the state’s bioscience cluster. She said Connecticut’s industry is now less dependent on big drug companies like Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb -- what she described as the "redwoods" in the forest.
"We now see some really amazing, fine new companies coming along, and it creates more diversity and balance in our ecosystem, and not reliant solely on the giants," she said. "No ecosystem can rely now on the big pharma."
Froshauer believes the key to managing the loss will be to retain the talent that Bristol-Myers Squibb has fostered in Connecticut, helping those people find jobs in growing companies.
"Individuals knowledgeable in clinical development and clinical data assessment, and that part of the talent pool which includes statisticians and high capacity data analysis, is something that's very valuable to Connecticut," said Froshauer.
Re-using the state-of-the-art Wallingford campus is also a key concern.
"That is a resource that we can provide to companies interested in Connecticut," said Froshauer. "Having proper lab space in place will only help."
Bristol-Myers Squibb will now concentrate on sites in New Jersey, California, and Boston.