SBD/August 3, 2011/Facilities

ESPN To Create At Least 200 Jobs As Part Of Connecticut's "First Five" Initiative

Malloy (middle) and others broke ground yesterday on new digital center
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy yesterday "named ESPN one of his 'First Five' companies, promising tax breaks and a low-interest loan in exchange for an investment of more than $100 million and the creation of hundreds of new jobs," according to Jackie Majerus of the BRISTOL PRESS. Both Malloy and ESPN said that the deal "helps solidify the company's presence" in the state and, pursuant to the agreement, the company "started construction Tuesday on a second digital center, a structure that will be the 19th and largest building" on its Bristol campus. Officials said that "terms of the agreement are still being finalized, but will cover a time span of a minimum of 10 years." Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development Deputy Commissioner Ronald Angelo said that ESPN will get a $17.5M "low-interest loan and as much as $6 million taken off taxes that would be paid on the construction." Angelo added that the state "will provide a training grant of at least $300,000 and as much as $1.2 million, depending on how many jobs ESPN creates" in Connecticut, with the range "being between 200 and 800 jobs." ESPN Exec VP/Administration Ed Durso said that the "state incentive helped the company remain at home in Connecticut." Durso said, "We prefer to stay here." ESPN and former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland "broke ground on the first digital center in 2000, and it opened four years later." Durso noted that company officials "expected the first digital center to last a decade before more space would be needed." Durso said the new 190,000-square-foot digital center will cost "well north of $100 million." ESPN Exec VP & Chief Technology Officer Chuck Pagano said that the digital center will be the "new home for the company's flagship program, SportsCenter" (BRISTOL PRESS, 8/3).

HOME GROWN: In Hartford, Mara Lee reports in the next two years, at least 275 new ESPN employees "will join the 3,872 full-timers on the Bristol campus." The company said that the "average salary for the new jobs is $75,000." Some of the $17.5M loan given to ESPN "will be forgivable, depending on how many workers ESPN hires in Connecticut over the next decade, but how much is also still under negotiation." The company also will "get a break on sales and use taxes for materials bought for the construction project, up to $6 million, depending on how much they spend." The four-story "broadcast technology building is supposed to open in the spring of 2014" (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/3). The AP's Stephen Singer notes Connecticut's "First Five" initiative is "intended to consolidate various tax credits to draw the first five businesses that invest $25 million in Connecticut and create 200 jobs over five years" (AP, 8/3).

BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES: The BRISTOL PRESS' Majerus reports federal and state officials yesterday recognized ESPN as "StormReady." The designation, "the first in the state to a commercial venue and only the second in New England, came from the National Weather Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection." It means that ESPN "worked to accomplish the federal criteria for the StormReady designation, a process that took a year to complete." ESPN "had to put in place an early response system, a weather-monitoring plan and record-keeping method, and a way to warn employees or potential or occurring disasters" (BRISTOL PRESS, 8/3).
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