Just days after a local economic development official engaged in a round of happy talk, word comes that 300 IBMers in Dutchess County, mostly at the East Fishkill microelectronics plant, will lose their jobs. (At about 4 percent of the 7,000 local employment base I’ve repeatedly seen cited, it appears to be the biggest round of layoffs by IBM since the mid-90s.)
IBM does indeed make Dutchess the technology hub of the region, but there’s no guarantee things will stay that way. That’s why over-reliance on IBM and other Fortune 500 companies is a flawed strategy. We need more efforts toward making the area hospitable to entrepreneurs and the startups that can be the real job and development engines. Big Blue is a great base to build of off, but it alone can’t be expected to carry the local technology sector, let alone the whole local economy.