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Legislators to Focus on Airport Zone This Session

The zone has the potential to bring hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenue if constructed, officials say.

 

Gov. Dannel Malloy promised to create jobs through economic development near Waterbury-Oxford Airport, and two local lawmakers plan to hold him at his word.

State Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, and state Rep. David Labriola, R-Oxford, said a large portion of their focus this legislative session, which kicked off Wednesday, will be on the airport zone.

"Businesses are standing on the sideline saying, 'let's go,'" Kane said. "They want to see this thing get off the ground."

The creation of a "business enterprise zone" would give companies tax breaks and possibly other incentives to develop around the airport. The project would add jobs and generate new state and municipal taxes, according to officials who support the project.

In 2011, Malloy vetoed a bill to create the Oxford enterprise zone because he wanted first to form a state panel - the Connecticut Airport Authority - to look at ways to take advantage of all of the state's airports. Kane said that he believes that committee will give a favorable look at the Waterbury-Oxford Airport because it is "shovel ready for development."

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"We need to take advantage of the airport and its close proximity to Route 8 and I-84," Kane said. "This is something that can help Oxford, Middlebury and Southbury. It's a home run."

Labriola said it is his intention to "continue to work on the enterprise zone and get that accomplished this session."

Malloy has put his word behind the project. In a prepared statement in 2011, he said, “The Oxford Airport area is very important to the local economy, and the state’s overall economy – improving the area could happen through working together to find the right strategies for the area."

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Oxford Patch.

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