State Bond Commission Looks To Borrow More Money For Job Creation
The state Bond Commission is expected to approve more than $229.3 million in borrowing for dozens of projects Thursday, including a $1.4 million low-interest loan for a fuel cell company that reduced its workforce by 39 percent last March.
ClearEdge Power Corporation, the Oregon-based fuel cell manufacturer that acquired UTC Power in South Windsor last year, will receive a $1.4 million loan to retain 179 jobs and create 80 new jobs within three years. The state will forgive $650,000 of the loan if the company reaches its job creation goal. The company will receive another $103,000 for staff training, bringing the total amount of the incentive up to $1.5 million.
The 39 percent workforce reduction amounted to more than 100 employees, but the company, according to the Hartford Business Journal, declined to say exactly how many employees it let go last year. A company spokeswoman said today they currently employ more than 200 people at their South Windsor location.
Asked why the state would give money to a company that recently reduced it’s workforce, Economic Development Commissioner Catherine Smith said that it was a “defensive move.” When UTC sold its fuel cell division to ClearEdge, Smith said there was a fear they might not choose to expand in Connecticut and might pack up the operation here and move it to its operation on the west coast.
“We wanted to make sure they didn’t leave the state,” Smith said Sunday.
The money for the loan will come from the Manufacturing Assistance Act.
Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said he wishes he could say he was surprised.
“The history of this company like so many others gives pause and raises issues on why Governor Malloy is giving the green light on millions of tax dollars while working families continue to go with less,” Candelora said. “It’s time that this administration provide more transparency to the process.”
The state Bond Commission also plans on giving the Thompson International Speedway $800,000 to retain 48 jobs and create 23 more. Of the principal, $200,000 will be forgiven if the company creates the new jobs by 2015.
Total Mortgage Services LLC is expected to receive $3.5 million to retain 144 jobs and create 140 new jobs. The state will forgive $1.5 million if the company creates the new jobs within five years. the company opened an office in Ridgefield last year and is licensed to do business in more than 30 states. According to its website, it’s been on the Inc 5000 list for the fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States for three consecutive years.
In addition to economic development incentives, the state Bond Commission will be asked to approve $22.6 million to help various school districts to purchase computers, tablets, and other electronic devices in order to meet the requirements of the Common Core Standards. The money will be used to help the districts purchase the equipment they need for the Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework. Derby, Guilford, New London, New Milford, North Branford, Norwich, Somers, and Torrington will also split $1.7 million to update the wiring at their schools so that they can comply with the Common Core requirements and take the computerized tests.
Another $1.9 million will be given to the Judicial Branch to award construction contracts based on bids it received more than a year ago for elevator upgrades at the New Haven Superior Courthouse. The project consists of replacing seven deteriorated elevator systems with new units in the nine story courthouse.
Also on the agenda is $1.8 million for Tarob Inc. to assist with the development of the Residences at Riverview, a 10-story mixed-use, mixed-income high-rise building with 48 rental units and 20,000 square-feet of commercial space at Constitution Plaza in Hartford.
Connecticut Landmarks will receive $750,000 to renovate the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry. The project consists of converting the barns into classroom space for educational programs and construction of a commercial kitchen for use by local food producers.
There’s also $500,000 to finance the first phase of a commercial facade improvement program along Albany Avenue in Hartford. The first phase will include an assessment of all commercial properties and vacant lots, as well as the inventory and needs of the commercial structures along Albany and Homestead Avenues.
The state also will give Wesleyan University more than $7.3 million to help clean up the environmental mess it left behind when it closed the Long Lane School for Girls. The school closed in 2002 after then-State Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein and then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal investigated a suicide attempt and asked the Department of Children and Families to review its policies for delinquent girls. The money will help Wesleyan University offset the costs of removing underground storage tanks, abatement and removal of asbestos, and any polychlorinated biphenyl materials.
The state Bond Commission also is expected to approve $4 million for remediation of Rochford Field in Hamden. The field was built on contaminated soil and the state is helping the town engineer a plastic and fabric barrier to keep people from coming in contact with the contaminated soil. The field is just one of two in the Newhallville neighborhood that were used as dumping sites for industrial and household waste in the late 1800s through the mid-1900s.
The state also will release more money to schools to help improve security as a result of the Sandy Hook shooting. The agenda includes about $6.3 million in additional funds for school security improvements. That’s out of a total of $15 million.
The state Bond Commission will meet at 3 p.m. Thursday in room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.