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The state Bond Commission approved nearly $249 million in borrowing Friday both in general obligation bonds and revenue bonds for dozens of projects including $2.5 million for a new Andean bear exhibit at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport.

Asked about the state’s investment in the exhibit for the endangered species, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state is assisting a zoo that “has proven itself an attractive draw in one of our distressed municipalities.” He said the state wants to work with the zoo to improve it and its ability to draw visitors to the state.

The zoo gets about 250,000 visitors per year and is home to more than 305 animals and 110 different species. Gregg Dancho, the zoo director was unable to be reached for comment on the new exhibit, but the Connecticut Post reported earlier this week that the exhibit is expected to be completed in 2015.

The zoo was just one of the cultural investments the state Bond Commission targeted for funding Friday.

There also was $4 million in funding that went to the New Britain Museum of American Art to assist with the construction of a 12,000-square-foot addition, $2 million for alterations and renovations to the Shubert Theater in New Haven, and $2 million for renovations and energy efficiency upgrades to the Bushnell Center of Performing Arts in Hartford.

The state Bond Commission also approved $424,227 for the City of New Haven to finance street calming measures to improve pedestrian safety on Whalley Avenue.

Malloy touted the $7.3 million being made in three new Advanced Manufacturing Centers at community colleges across Connecticut. The money will be used to improve facilities and equipment at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, and Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson.

There was also a $1.7 million loan made to assist Wallingford-based Z-Medica, which makes and distributes sterile traumatic wound products that rapidly stop high volume blood loss. It currently has 46 employees and expects to add 25 more over the next five years with the additional assistance from the state.

“Supporting the expansion and growth of the state’s small businesses is part of our strategy to create jobs. This is a company that is manufacturing cutting-edge technologies and products that are saving lives,” Malloy said.

Larry Hicks, president and CEO of Z-Medica, said the money will help the company’s vision come into immediate focus.

“We’re happy to be here. Connecticut is home to some of the world’s best life-sciences’ products,” Hicks said. “The reception and spirit in which we’ve had this discussion with the state of Connecticut has been incredible.”

The news of these investments come the same week as Connecticut was visited by governor’s from Texas and South Dakota, who were looking to poach Connecticut companies.

Malloy said the gubernatorial visits were not unusual.

“I compete for jobs every single day,” Malloy said. “I built an economy in Connecticut that’s supportive of job growth. We can celebrate, as I stand here today, the creation of 36,700 private sector jobs since I became governor.”

All 41 items on the Bond Commission agenda passed unanimously.


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