Layoffs looming for another of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s "First Five" companies in Connecticut. Just a few years after getting millions in tax credits and state assistance, New Haven's Alexion Pharmaceuticals is cutting jobs.
Last year, Alexion cut the ribbon on its new headquarters in downtown New Haven, but on Wednesday, the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company announced its going to be laying off roughly seven percent of its workforce.
About four years ago, Alexion officials broke ground as the company moved back to New Haven and brought with it hundreds of jobs.
Then, roughly one year after the company moved into its $100-million headquarters on College Street with state of the art labs and office space. Alexion, which specializes in making drugs for rare diseases, is restructuring its company and that means it will soon be laying off more than 200 employees.
"I'm not in the mind of the executives. I don't know what they're thinking,” Michelle Stronz, who teaches strategy and entrepreneurship at Quinnipiac University, said. “But, based on what I know about them, read about this particularly decision, they're trying to grow the company, that means they want to cut costs."
Stronz said she's not surprised by the layoffs.
"The pharmaceutical industry is really dynamic and they have a very long time line to get new products to market,” Stronz said. Any pharmaceutical company, and Alexion in particular is dealing with rare disease, so this has to be more complicated."
In December, the company's CEO and CFO stepped down. Earlier this month, Alexion's founder, who started the Connecticut company in 1992, announced he was retiring.
Now news of the layoffs follows the announcement that another “First Five” company, ESPN, was already prepping for another round of layoffs as well.
Some legislators want the state to pump the breaks on the “First Five” program. In 2012, the state pledged to provide Alexion with up to $51 million in assistance, including a $20 million loan, with much of that being forgiven based on the creation of 200-300 full time jobs.
When asked about the incentive-based program on Wednesday, Malloy said it was "precisely what’s wrong with Republican leadership." He added that it was "easier to play politics and root for failure than to understand the facts."
"To date, the First Five initiative has created over 3,500 jobs in Connecticut. As a First Five company, Alexion Pharmaceuticals has made a commitment to stay and grow right here in Connecticut – that is not changing. While some may call for pulling the rug out from under our major employers in attempt to score political points, we will continue to focus on strengthening our economy by providing greater stability and predictability for businesses throughout the state," Malloy said
Eyewitness News reached out to Alexion multiple times for a statement on the layoffs. The station was told one was coming, but as of 4 p.m., there was no statement.
As for the layoffs, no word on what positions are being affected, but the cuts are expected to take effect in the next few weeks.
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