Voters of Preston have an important decision to make on Tuesday's referendum regarding whether or not a $2 million loan from the state and a $2 million town match should be approved.
As president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, I recognize the value of this project to the region. According to the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy plan for Southeastern Connecticut, the redevelopment of the former Norwich Hospital site was ranked the most critical economic development project for this area.
But, Preston voters should recognize the benefits it has for their own community. When developed, the property will add greatly to their tax base, provide jobs, enhance the property values, encourage private investment, allow young people the affordability to stay or return to the community, and allow the town to leverage funds for other grants.
Preston has done an incredible job of leveraging state and federal funding, obtaining about $4 million with little cost to the town. Without evidence the town is willing to be a partner with state and federal agencies, I believe future grant opportunities will dissipate and progress will halt. I encourage Preston voters to vote yes on Tuesday.