Leav­ing the state

Dis­tillery pledges to keep smaller site in Fair­field County

Hartford Courant - - Front Page - By Stephen Singer

Di­a­geo, a Bri­tish-based dis­tillery that re­ceived $40 mil­lion in tax cred­its 16 years ago to move its North Amer­i­can head­quar­ters to Nor­walk from Stam­ford, is leav­ing Con­necti­cut for New York City. The com­pany said it would main­tain a smaller site some­where in Fair­field County. Busi­ness,

Di­a­geo is leav­ing Nor­walk for New York City and es­tab­lish­ing 350 jobs in Man­hat­tan, though the al­co­hol dis­tiller — lured by up to $6.6 mil­lion in in­cen­tives from New York state — said it will keep a smaller site in Fair­field County.

The Bri­tish-based com­pany, which re­ceived $40 mil­lion in Con­necti­cut tax cred­its 16 years ago to help move its North Amer­i­can head­quar­ters to Nor­walk from Stam­ford and add about 300 new jobs, said it took a look at its New York and Nor­walk sites as leases were about to ex­pire.

“We are com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing to op­er­ate in Con­necti­cut,” Deirdre Mahlan, pres­i­dent of Di­a­geo North Amer­ica, said in an email. “Our Fair­field County of­fice will house a num­ber of teams, in­clud­ing our in­no­va­tion cen­ter of ex­cel­lence.”

The exit, which is ex­pected in Jan­uary 2020, was an­nounced just days af­ter Gov. Ned La­mont took of­fice.

“We share the gov­er­nor’s op­ti­mism for the fu­ture of the state and look for­ward to help­ing de­liver on that vision,” Mahlan said.

Em­pire State De­vel­op­ment, the New York state eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment agency, said Di­a­geo will in­vest $31 mil­lion in a new 87,000-square-foot of­fice at 3 World Trade Cen­ter. The pro­ject, which is be­ing sup­ported by New York state tax cred­its, will at­tract 350 new jobs to New York and pre­serve an­other 150 in New York City.

Howard Zem­sky, New York’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment com­mis­sioner, cred­ited New York’s “smart in­vest­ments in ed­u­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture and ... busi­ness ecosys­tem” for at­tract­ing com­pa­nies such as Di­a­geo.

In a state­ment from the com­pany, Di­a­geo said its pri­mary of­fice lo­ca­tion will be in lower Man­hat­tan as it brings to­gether com­mer­cial and mar­ket­ing busi­nesses. A sec­ond smaller of­fice will be in Fair­field County, though a site was not men­tioned.

“Ul­ti­mately, we want to en­sure we have the best con­di­tions for de­liv­er­ing per­for­mance, by im­prov­ing ways of work­ing, cre­at­ing the best work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for our peo­ple, while giv­ing us greater ac­cess to key ta­lent pools,” the com­pany said.

Nor­walk Mayor Harry Rilling said he be­lieved the ref­er­ence to ta­lent was “kind of strange” be­cause Fair­field County has a strong tech work force.

Ul­ti­mately, Nor­walk could not match the fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives that New York of­fered to Di­a­geo. “We were kind of left out in the cold,” he said.

“That’s the game that peo­ple play,” Rilling said. “They’re look­ing for the best deals.”

The tax cred­its of­fered by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gov. John G. Rowland in 2003 pro­voked crit­i­cism from some Stam­ford of­fi­cials who called it “eco­nomic poach­ing” that sub­si­dized a multi- na­tional cor­po­ra­tion to move from one Con­necti­cut city to an­other.

The Rowland ad­min­is­tra­tion de­fended the deal as nec­es­sary to keep Di­a­geo from mov­ing to Westch­ester County.

For­mer Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy, then the mayor of Stam­ford, com­plained that Di­a­geo had not been of­fered the same state in­cen­tives to stay in the city. Stam­ford of­fi­cials said Di­a­geo’s move would cost the city about $128,000 a year in prop­erty taxes and in­crease down­town of­fice va­cancy rates.

Stephen Singer can be reached at [email protected]

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.