Sabic to close Polymer Processing Development Center in Pittsfield


PITTSFIELD — Sabic has confirmed it will close its Polymer Processing Development Center in Pittsfield within two years and move those operations to Selkirk, N.Y., by 2017.

The announcement on Wednesday was expected in the wake of October's news that Sabic Innovative Plastics was shuttering its Pittsfield headquarters and consolidating in Houston, Texas.

"Many of the employees will hopefully be commuting to Selkirk," Sabic spokeswoman Jodi Kennedy said.

Selkirk is a hamlet in the town of Bethlehem, N.Y., which is located on the west bank of the Hudson River just south of Albany.

It remains unclear how many employees would be affected by the move to Selkirk, but the company since October has said a total of 300 Pittsfield employees would be affected by consolidation, including those at the development center.

Citing competitive reasons, Sabic declined to specify the breakdown of employees at each of its Pittsfield facilities: the corporate offices at 1 Plastics Ave., and at the development center, which is Sabic's research and development arm.

Moving the center out of Pittsfield is part of a larger company move to consolidate its technology and innovation operations in Pittsfield and Exton, Pa. at Sabic's Selkirk facility.

The consolidation will happen once modifications to the Selkirk facility are made sometime in 2017. When that occurs, Sabic will close its facilities in Pittsfield and Exton.

"Because it's very early in the process we will be starting the process to assess the capacity of the three locations and what will be required in the future to support the business going forward," Kennedy said.

"We have some fabulous scientists, and we're looking forward to them being with us," she said. "But a lot needs to be done before we have clarity on actual numbers."

In October, Sabic announced that it planned to move the corporate offices that it maintains on Plastics Avenue to Houston sometime in 2016. Houston is the hub of the global conglomerate's operations in the Americas.

Any announcement regarding the future of the development center and its employees in Pittsfield was not made in October because the situation was still under review, Kennedy said.

Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said city officials have been expecting an announcement from Sabic regarding the development center employees.

"We knew that there was going to be a change there, and we knew it would happen; we just didn't know where," Bianchi said. "A lot of the people who work out of here, I believe, worked in Selkirk at one point in time.

"We hope that people will continue to live in Pittsfield and commute to New York, which is about a 45 minute drive," he said.

"The nice thing is it's not like they're consolidating in western New York," he said. "It's here."

Bianchi said the city is waiting to receive more information from Sabic before it can assist all of the local employees who may be affected by the moves to Houston and Selkirk.

"We met with them a few weeks back," Bianchi said. "They said as they learn more and have an understanding of our needs that they will inform us. We'll put that together in a rapid response program."

Consolidating all of its three Northeast technology and innovation facilities at a single site will make the company more efficient, a Sabic official said.

"This integration will not only drive important efficiencies, it will also merge material science, process engineering, and application development into a collaborative environment that will lead to new innovation breakthroughs," said Awadh al-Maker, the executive vice president of Sabic Technology & Innovation, in a statement.

Sabic came to Pittsfield in 2007 when it purchased GE Plastics world headquarters for $11.6 billion. The company rents both 1 Plastics Avenue and the development center from GE.

GE also owns several other buildings in Pittsfield that are located adjacent to the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires.

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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