Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced a final agreement between the state and Maine-based research laboratory during a ceremonial bill signing at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington where the new genomic lab will be built.
Connecticut Innovations signed-off on the intellectual property sharing agreement Thursday finalizing the deal on the anniversary of Malloy’s first year in office.
The agreement means the state will give Jackson Laboratory a $192 million forgivable construction loan if it’s able to create and retain 300 jobs by the 10th year. It will also receive $99 million in research funding and a lease on 17 acres of land, which it can buy for $1 from the state once it creates 600 jobs in Connecticut.
The latest agreement with Connecticut Innovations means the state will receive 10 percent or up to $3 million of any net royalty proceeds Jackson Labs makes on its intellectual property.
“This is an important day in the history of Connecticut,” Malloy said. “Because it marks the end of the past and the beginning of the future.”
Malloy touted the high-quality jobs Jackson Labs will bring to the state and the research triangle it creates between Yale in New Haven and UConn in Farmington.
The personalized genomic medicine that Jackson Labs specializes in is a growth industry.
“What we’re talking about is the next generation of jobs, investing in an industry that is already worth $298 billion a year and is growing at 11 percent per year,” Malloy said.
However, when it was the General Assembly’s turn to approve the deal last October not every lawmaker thought the risk was worth the investment.
Many lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle, questioned the pace of the deal and the $291 million Malloy was looking to borrow to make it happen. Some of the most vocal Republican critics wanted the state the maintain ownership of the land and the building until Jackson Labs was able to create the jobs it promised.
Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, who voted against the project, said Thursday that he’s pleased the state inked a royalty agreement, but still believes there’s a lot of risk in the deal. He wondered why the state would give them the money up front instead of forgiving more of it the longer the company stays.
Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith said Jackson Labs will own the building going forward, but if they do not get 300 jobs in the 10 year period the building will revert back to the state. She said if they leave after 10 years and fail to create the jobs they promised the state will be allowed to buy the building back at a steep discount. She said they don’t get to own the land until they create 600 jobs. Until then they will lease the land for $1 per year.
She said she thinks the state came up with a combination of carrots and sticks in the final deal. But Suzio still wonders why the deal had to be put through so quickly before the royalty agreement could even be drafted. He said it would have been much better if the state had taken its time and tried to work in a bipartisan manner.
But Malloy wanted the deal done and Jackson had already been burned by Florida so it was going to make sure that didn’t happen again.
The deal came about after Malloy’s Chief of Staff Tim Bannon’s wife read a local news story at their home in Maine about Jackson Labs’ failed efforts to build a lab in Florida.
Bannon and the state’s economic development officials drove to Bar Harbor, Maine to see if the Jackson Labs would be interested in coming to Connecticut.
One month before their visit, the legislature approved $254 million in bonds to overhaul the UConn Health Center and expand the research facilities. The initiative was called “Bioscience Connecticut,” and it expanded upon the $362 million in borrowing the state did under former Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration. There’s also another $200 million in private funds that will be raised for the ambulatory care facility.
When it decided to increase its investment in the health center Malloy said he thought it would take a long time to see the fruits of their investment.
“But little did we know that by demonstrating as a state a commitment to higher education and particularly to research and bioscience at a time when most other states were running in the opposite direction that in fact success would come more quickly than we might have possibly imagined,” Malloy said Thursday.
Jackson Labs President and CEO Dr. Edison Liu said the state of Connecticut and its officials made them a deal that was “irresistible.” He said the partnership is unique in that it combines both the scientific and entrepreneurial strengths of Connecticut research institutions and more established institutions like UConn and Yale. He said the partnership moves them toward making personalized and genomic medicine a reality.
“We’re moving as rapidly as we can to create a new and more vibrant and stronger Connecticut with new and better jobs,” Malloy said.
There’s no one who appreciated that more than Ed Reilly of the Hartford Building Trades. Reilly said the construction industry has a 40 percent unemployment rate and they’re anxious to get back to work.
Reilly applauded Malloy for having the desire to “change the state of Connecticut by bringing in new industry, new technology and along with it new opportunity.“
A press release says Jackson Labs will give preference to Connecticut residents when hiring and all vendors will be given preference when “cost-effective and scientifically sound.” The lab will also enter into a Community Workforce Agreement, also known as a Project Labor Agreement, with the unions to complete construction of the facility which is expected to be completed within a year.