Wilton chip manufacturer to add 524 jobs, expand
WILTON — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday that ASML, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chip-making equipment, is planning to grow its Wilton operations through an expansion project that will add up to 524 new jobs — bringing its total workforce to more than 1,700 employees.
The $100 million-plus project will include substantial interior renovations that start this month, the expansion of its manufacturing and engineering operations, and the construction of a parking garage that will add 550 spaces to its property.
All of the projects will be completed in the next two years, Malloy said.
“I will remind you that just a few years ago, prior to the redesigning the state’s efforts on economic development, we had no program for manufacturing,” Malloy said. “It’s exciting to see the opportunity for 500 additional jobs being created in this marketplace by this great company, understanding the broad reach of this company and what it means to see that investment made here in Connecticut at this site.”
Bill Amalfitano, general manager of ASML of Wilton, said the expansion project also speaks to the company’s ongoing long-term commitment to grow its workforce in town and its client base worldwide.
In addition to more than 500 jobs that will be created, the company is looking to fill 175 vacancies in the next six months, he said.
“We feel the growth that we’re going to provide is beneficial for the state, it’s beneficial for ASML quite frankly,” Amalfitano said. “So I really think in the end it’s a win-win for both parties. And we’re really appreciative, really appreciative, for the support.”
ASML of Wilton will receive up to $14 million in grants from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, through Malloy’s First Five Plus Program, to support the expansion project if the company creates up to 524 new jobs within specific time-frames over the next eight years. ASML will also be able to use up to $6 million in potential tax credits if the company retains its current workforce and creates up to 524 new jobs.
The expansion project started in the fall, according to Amalfitano, with the hiring of about 100 employees since then. The company expects to reach about 1,750 employees within four years, with most of the added employees hired sooner.
While local leaders and community members applauded Malloy’s announcement of the expansion project, they raised concerns about his recent decision in January to indefinitely postpone hundreds of transportation projects across the state — including a $2.7 million project to improve the problematic intersection at Grumman Hill Road and Route 7, near the entrance of ASML’s facilities at 60 and 77 Danbury Road.
Since 80 percent of the project is federally funded, the state would have to fund the remaining 20 percent, or $534,000, of the project.
Wilton First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said the cost of that investment is small compared to the benefits of having a more safe and operational intersection. Dozens from the community voiced their support for the transportation project at a state Department of Transportation information session in December.
Over the past three years, there have been 65 accidents at the four-way intersection, according to data from the state Department of Transportation. About half were rear-end collisions.
“In order to keep their expansion of 500-some employees coming into this facility, they need that expansion and we all need it — all the residents and the other people that come down Grumman Hill Road,” said Vanderslice, who recently met with the project’s design team. “The governor heard from the local community, and so hopefully if we just keep up the pressure, it’ll eventually happen.”
Malloy proposed restoring $4.3 billion to fund improvements for the intersection and other tabled transportation projects in his budget Monday. But he also called for raising the gas tax by four cents and placing tolls on state highways, which have long been controversial issues in the state.
As such, Malloy said the future of state funding for transportation now rests on state lawmakers.
“I hope the Legislature does us well to resolve the difficulties with respect to the transportation fund, which is seeing less money come in,” Malloy said. “It’s a simple reality. You can’t build systems for moving people around the state without the money necessary to build those systems.”
However, state legislators who were at the announcement had different views.
“He’s suggesting, this administration is suggesting, that they need a whole lot of new taxes to pay for that. But I disagree. I think the last thing our state needs is more taxes,” said Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, co-chairperson of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee. “And we don’t have to, if this administration and Legislature focuses on the core, must-have projects and takes off things that are nice to have but are not critical. And that’s what we’re going to work for.”
Additionally, state Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, said the transportation project “cannot be simply taken off of the Connecticut Transportation Improvement List by the act of the administration or any of the Legislature.”
“There has to be a vote by the regional metropolitan planning organization for there to be any substantial change in the plans for that project,” said Lavielle, a member of the Transportation Committee.
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