Reaction to Alexion leaving New Haven for Boston

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro calls it “shocking” and “shameful”. After the state of Connecticut gave Alexion Pharmaceuticals $20 million in state incentives and taxpayer dollars and a $6 million grant to stay in Connecticut and continue to do business here, the company announced it is moving out of state — to Boston.

It is a big business divorce that is that latest bruising punch to the state of Connecticut after G.E. left last year and Aetna said goodbye in June. As far as the Alexion situation is concerned, the state of Connecticut says it wants its money back.

“I hope they do,” said Dave Cadden, a professor of Quinnipiac University. “I hope the state demands its engagement ring back.”

Some of that incentive money helped to build a brand new, state of the art headquarters in New Haven just about a year ago. After such a short amount of time, the company is bailing for Boston, taking 400 jobs with it. People who work near Alexion say it’s like a punch in the gut.

“It means a lot of jobs, a lot of income, a lot of money and it takes away from a lot of people,” Barbara Turcotte said. “I think it’s sad.”

“I don’t think that’s very fair,” she said. “I don’t think that’s very right — to do that to Connecticut,” Barbara said.

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development doesn’t think it’s fair either. They issued this statement: “Alexion’s decision to move its headquarters out of the state is very disappointing especially in light of the support the state has given to the company over the years.”

The move will happen in the middle of next year. The company says it plans to keep 450 jobs in New Haven and those jobs are critical for the growth and strength of the company going forward. As part of its restructuring, Alexion will also cut 20% of its global workforce by 2019.

The company issued press statements, saying the moves are difficult, but they will allow Alexion to create a “leaner organization with greater financial flexibility.”

Cadden believes this departure reflects more negatively on Alexion than it does the state of Connecticut. He says the state has shown towards Alexion more than once that it can operate as a business-friendly entity.

“They’ve had their problems in the recent past,” Cadden said. “They lost their CEO, followed rapidly by the CFO, followed even more rapidly by any executive that has chief in front of their title. They moved from Cheshire to a new facility (in New Haven) in what — a year? And now they’re moving again?”

Late in the day, Governor Malloy told News8 he was in discussions with the company for it to repay $26 million in state incentives. Cadden says if the governor can get all of that money back, it would send a message when it comes to deciding on whether or not the state should dole out big bucks to big businesses in the future.

“Because it will send a lesson to other companies that have taken the gifts of the state in order to build jobs and sometimes they play shell games,” Cadden said.

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