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Bill Would Create Business Zone Around Bradley Airport

SHAWN R. BEALS

February 17, 2010

HARTFORD - Business leaders, legislators and town officials say that creating a special business zone near Bradley International Airport would be vital for the region, and the state, to compete for development when the economy improves.

Advocates at a public hearing before the legislature's commerce committee said Tuesday that a bill establishing the zone would spark economic interest.

The Bradley Development Zone would provide tax incentives and exemptions for new businesses in the four towns surrounding the airport: Windsor Locks, East Granby, Suffield and Windsor. In the proposed bill, new businesses could be eligible for tax credits and sales tax exemptions on machinery replacement costs, and the state would reimburse towns for 40 percent of tax revenue that the town would have received.

"We believe that if Bradley International Airport is truly the economic engine of the region that we should embrace the establishment of a development zone so we are postured to move in a positive direction as we come out of one of the worst economic spirals of our time," said Windsor Locks First Selectman Steven Wawruck.

A similar bill passed the state Senate last year, but never came to a vote in the House.

State Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said that the zone would help the state become "far-sighted" in its approach to improving the local economy and becoming business-friendly.

But Gov. M. Jodi Rell's budget director, Robert Genuario, said the state can't afford the bill.

"Whatever the merits of the proposed tax credits and municipal reimbursements proposed in this legislation, we simply cannot afford them at this time," Genuario wrote in testimony submitted to the commerce committee.

Officials said they were willing to work with the Office of Policy and Management and the state Department of Economic and Community Development on "problems" with the bill, said state Rep. Peggy Sayers, D-Windsor Locks.

Genuario also said the bill does not effectively limit the incentives to the proposed zone.

"We firmly believe the Bradley Development Zone will help create new jobs, create new capital and increase tax revenues," said James Hayden, East Granby first selectman and president of the Bradley Development League. "Bradley isn't just the airport next door, it's a significant economic driver."

The area has about 2,000 acres of developable land and easy access to major highways, Wawruck said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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