The Connecticut legislature voted Wednesday in favor of a $291-million offer to bring Jackson Laboratory to the University of Connecticut — creating 300 jobs over the next 10 years, according to the Hartford Courant.
The Senate voted 21-14 in support of a controversial bill backed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat. The vote was along party lines, with 21 Democrats backing the governor and 14 Republicans saying the money was excessive, according to the Courant.
The measure was immediately sent to the state House of Representatives, which approved the bill 101 to 41, on a mostly party line vote after 10:30 p.m., the Courant reported.
“Yes, this is about jobs — more than 6,800 of them,” Malloy told the Courant in a prepared statement. “But it’s also about a lot more than that. It’s about making Connecticut a leader in a growth industry.”
The Connecticut bill for economic development nearly mirrors the highly contentious plan that was considered for Ave Maria and aborted this past January. Lab officials realized local and state support totaling $260 million would not be forthcoming.
What’s at stake in Connecticut is a jobs creation plan with Jackson building a genetics research program at the university’s Health Center in Farmington. The lab pledges to create 300 jobs within 10 years and increase it to 600 employees in 20 years. The $291 million would be used to build a 173,500-square-foot building for the project on 17 acres of state-owned land.
The Connecticut governor is promoting the project as the state’s next phase of “Bioscience Connecticut” to foster the bioscience industry. He also wants to provide an additional $99 million to Jackson for research purposes.
Connecticut critics have raised objections similar to what led to the project’s demise in Collier County.
At the top of the list is that the emerging field of genomic medicine — tailoring medications to an individual’s genetic makeup — would be a new field for Jackson, according to the Courant.
Another is that Jackson’s business plan submitted to Connecticut economic development leaders has been kept confidential on the basis of trade secrets.
That same argument irked Collier residents last year when Jackson submitted its application to Enterprise Florida for an initial $50-million. All told, Jackson sought $130 million in tax dollars from Collier residents and a matching amount from the state Legislature.
The Collier plan called for creating 244 jobs over 10 years and serving as the catalyst for the establishment of a biomedical research park in Ave Maria. The Barron Collier Cos. offered to donate 50 acres in Ave Maria to Jackson.
After withdrawing its Collier plans, Jackson officials pursued a deal in Sarasota and pulled out of Florida entirely when they could not get an airing before Gov. Rick Scott.