In a Wednesday morning email sent site-wide on behalf of Andrew Espejo, who is general manager of Catalent’s manufacturing facility in Bloomington, the pharmaceutical manufacturing company has announced a reduction of its Bloomington workforce by 400 jobs.
The email indicates that employees—which include full-time and temporary employees, mostly within the operations team—will be notified between Wednesday and Friday to “discuss the next steps, review available support, and address any questions the impacted employees may have.”
Wednesday’s email message states: “Those who are not contacted by Human Resources should report to work as scheduled.”
The message also says, “[W]e’re committed to operating in a transparent manner to ensure every employee impacted by these changes has the information and support they need, severance pay, benefits continuation, and outplacement assistance.”
The email states that “every colleague on this team has performed admirably,” and adds that the workforce reduction is in “no way a reflection of the quality of the work we’ve done.”
In early 2022, when Catalent was seeking a tax abatement from the city of Bloomington for a planned expansion of its operations here, the company indicated that it had 3,212 full-time employees. The tax abatement was granted. The planned expansion was supposed to add 1,000 more jobs.
Wednesday’s email message describes a reduction in jobs as a step that was taken only after other measures were tried:
We deeply value our employees, so we took many steps to avoid reducing our workforce, including restructuring our shifts to improve efficiencies, incentivizing cost-cutting as part of our Local Incentive Plan, halting our hiring processes, and pausing all non-critical capital expenditure projects. Unfortunately, it has not been enough, and now we must adjust the size and structure of our organization.
Wednesday morning’s email message implies that in order to produce COVID-19 vaccines, the company had for a time accepted costs that were higher than it wanted, but that could not continue:
During the worst of the pandemic, Catalent met the call to continue to provide the essential products we make as well as develop and manufacture the vaccines that led to saving tens of millions of lives, regardless of the cost. But ignoring costs is not a sustainable strategy for any business over the long term.
Catalent’s previous expansion plans have been a tangential part of the conversation surrounding the location of a planned new county jail facility.
The property that is owned by Monroe County government—off Rogers Street, just south of the existing Catalent facility—is subject of a resolution that was approved by county commissioners earlier this year. The resolution essentially sets aside the land for a period of two years, in case Catalent wants to purchase it.
If it turns out that Wednesday’s announcement means the Rogers Street property won’t ever be sold to Catalent, that does not mean the real estate would be considered as an alternative site for the county’s new jail, according to president of the Monroe County board of commissioners, Julie Thomas.
After the regular Wednesday morning meeting of the county commissioners, Thomas told The B Square: “I would not jump to the conclusion that [the Rogers Street property] is now available, or that it is appropriate for a jail site—because it is not.”
The county’s preferred location for a new jail is an 87-acre parcel in the southwest corner of the city.
But the Bloomington plan commission has recommended the city council not approve a rezone request to make the county’s preferred new jail location a legal site for a jail.
During the plan commission’s recent deliberations on the rezone, the Rogers Street property owned by Monroe County got a passing mention as a possible alternative site for a new jail. Given the possibility of a Catalent expansion on the property, that was not a feasible option, county commissioners said.
Even if there’s no Catalent expansion, the Rogers Street property is still not feasible as a jail site, Thomas said Wednesday morning—because the surrounding development of the property over the last two decades has made it unsuitable for that use. For one thing, there has been additional nearby housing development, she said.
In any case, Monroe County government has some plans for a significant affordable housing project on the Rogers Street site, Thomas said.
By the end of the day on Wednesday, The B Square was not able to reach Catalent for comment.