Company cancels at-home program


BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) – A Boston financial firm is ending a program that was to have provided up to 200 well-paying jobs to Vermonters who were to work out of their homes.

The state provided almost $300,000 to help Putnam Investments set up the program, which at its peak employed only about 45 people. Currently there are fewer than 10 people working for Putnam from Vermont.

Putnam is not eliminating the jobs. They are being relocated at the end of July from Vermont and Maine, said Putnam spokeswoman Nancy Fisher.

Putnam is changing its system and its new work-at-home customer service representatives will be trained at the company’s facilities in Andover and Franklin, Mass., said Fisher.

“Having people close offers something that we think is very important,” she said. “Businesses adapt and adjust.”

The employees from Vermont and Maine were told they could keep their jobs if they moved to Massachusetts, Fisher said. None of the Vermonters are planning to move.

Putnam’s work-at-home program was announced in 2000. The Vermont Department of Labor helped launch the program with a $250,000 grant and the Department of Economic Development supplied another $49,000.

None of the money will be returned, said David Mace, a spokesman for the state.

“Putnam’s decision to discontinue the program is regrettable,” he said. “The money invested in the program has not been lost because the people trained still have those skills.”