HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A bio-science firm won't get credit for creating jobs funded by the University of Connecticut but linked to the company's planned Connecticut research facility, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office said Wednesday night.
State Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, had complained after Catherine Smith, the commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, informed him in an email that 10 UConn-funded jobs would count as being part of 300 that The Jackson Laboratory had agreed to create in the state in exchange for $290 million in state aid.
Jackson, based in Bar Harbor, Maine, agreed in February to build a $1.1 billion research facility near the UConn Health Center in Farmington. Construction is expected to begin within a year.
Under the deal approved by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, the state is providing $192 million in loans that will be forgiven once Jackson creates and retains 300 jobs by the 10th year. Jackson also is receiving up to $99 million in grants over 10 years for research.
Under a separate research collaboration agreement with UConn, the school agreed to fund 10 full-time faculty positions for the laboratory and Jackson agreed to hire another 20 researchers who will be eligible to apply for faculty appointments.
Suzio, a critic of the deal, wrote to Smith asking if Jackson would be given credit for the 10 UConn-funded positions. She wrote back that it would, calling the lab "a transformational opportunity for our state and our growing bioscience sector."
"The success of this project will largely be determined by the strength of the partnership between the state, the university and Jackson Laboratory," she wrote. "The collaboration among the scientists and faculty in particular will be critical. It is true that 10 employees will count toward Jackson Lab's job creation goals, but I would argue this is a small cost relative to the long-term financial benefits this project will generate."
Suzio said that would amount to the company "double-dipping" into state coffers.
"Jackson is already being paid, basically, a million dollars a job to create jobs," he said. "Now, we're paying them to hire people we're going to be paying to work for them. It sounds nutty, but it's true."
Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Malloy, on Wednesday initially defended that position, but later said the 10 UConn-funded faculty positions will be in addition to the 300 jobs Jackson has agreed to provide.
"There was a misunderstanding between the commissioner and the senator," he said.
Reached at home Wednesday night, Jackson Lab spokeswoman Joyce Peterson said she had no immediate comment and would have to look into the issue.