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December 3, 2013

Malloy promises transparency on some economic incentives

Gov. Malloy wants to shine some light on the DECD's financial incentives aimed at growing jobs in the state.

Gov. Dannel Malloy is taking a crack at being more transparent about state economic incentives, which some have criticized as too secretive.

Malloy has ordered the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development to create a public database of economic development grants, loans and tax credits by March 31.

The website is already live, but contains information only on deals in which the state has already cut recipients a check, officials said. The site launched Tuesday with data on more than 1,000 grants, loans and tax credits received by Connecticut companies under DECD program since 2011.

Not including tax credits, that assistance totaled $475 million, which the state says has helped leverage $1.9 billion in private investments.

Included on the map are corporate recipients of the ‘First Five’ program, which as of March had made $185 million in big-dollar grants and loans to nine companies for headquarters relocation, renovations and job creation.

Though state officials have publicly released information on the First Five recipients, the map doesn’t yet contain information on dollar amounts, type of assistance, existing employee counts and whether recipients are in compliance with their state agreements.

“Still a work in progress, DECD will incorporate other economic development funding sources into the map as well as the amount of assistance received in future updates,” Malloy’s office said in a statement.

More complete information is available in a DECD report released Tuesday, which has a link to a spreadsheet containing economic assistance data points that state officials will update periodically.

Other programs mapped on the website include Small Businesses Express, urban reinvestment tax credits and manufacturing assistance loans.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo recommended last year that the state create a searchable database to increase transparency of economic development programs.

His recommendations were met with some apprehension by businesses worried about giving competitors too much information.

DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said DECD plans to release aggregate data on tax credits awarded to companies. It will not release information on how a company is applying those credits in its tax filing, she said.

Not included in today’s executive order are the renewable energy credits awarded under state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s Zero-emissions and Low-emissions Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC/LREC) program.

Utilities and recipients wanted to keep those records secret for what they said were competitive reasons. But information on the first round of that program was released by state officials in August after the Hartford Business Journal and others made Freedom of Information Act requests.

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Read Malloy's executive order

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