Douglas, Leahy conference with IBM officials

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says senior IBM officials have assured him that the company will remain in Vermont as long as the state addresses key concerns.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The governor and Senator Patrick Leahy had planned to fly to IBM headquarters in Armonk, New York, to meet with company officials about the future of the Essex Junction facility. The trip was canceled due to blizzard conditions in New York state, but the meeting still took place with teleconferencing.

Douglas and Leahy met with IBM’s senior vice president for research and development, Nicholas D’Anoffrio. The governor wanted to convey the clear message to IBM that his administration is working on the issues of most concern to company:

(Douglas) “I believe that they’re committed to Vermont as long as they can be profitable in Vermont. Mr. D’Anoffrio talked about the challenges of doing business in our state, the importance of confronting some of those issues. He pointed out that many of the issues haven’t changed since the days when he was here, such as the Circumferential Highway, the cost of electricity, the permitting process. So I assured him of my strong commitment to address these issues.”

(Kinzel) Senator Leahy says he believes the threat of terrorism throughout the world since September 11 will encourage IBM to continue to operate large facilities in the United States:

(Leahy) “Targets that are always going to be there overseas are going to be those things that have logos that are the most recognized world wide as American Coca Cola, IBM, General Motors things of this nature. Even though they all have international operations and being within the United States being diversified around the United States adds to the security of a major company.”

(Kinzel) Leahy, who is a Democrat, says he set up the meeting with Douglas, who is a Republican, to show IBM officials that the effort to keep IBM in Vermont was not a partisan issue but was a “Vermont” issue.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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