Norwich hopes loan can lure manufacturer eager to move to city

Norwich - An unnamed manufacturing business with 50 employees and a "20 percent growth potential" wants to move to the Norwich Business Park, but would need a city loan to fill a financing gap between the $3 million project cost and its available funding.

Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills told the agency's board of directors Thursday that he couldn't identify the company, but outlined the financing difficulties the city must overcome to make the project happen.

The company would move from another Connecticut town into an unidentified building in the park, bringing 50 good-paying manufacturing jobs with a potential to expand to 75 jobs within five years, he said.

Mills said the company's lease in its current location will double in 45 days, and it very much would like to move to Norwich.

The company needs to fill a financial gap of up to $650,000, and Mills said he pledged to the company's executive officer Wednesday that he would work to find a way for the city to provide that funding.

Mayor Peter Nystrom earlier this month proposed creating an $800,000 city revolving loan program specifically for manufacturing businesses with this company in mind. Aldermen at the Jan. 14 City Council meeting tabled action on the proposal to obtain more information.

Nystrom said and he is hoping aldermen will be ready on Feb. 4 to allow NCDC to go forward and write the loan program and hold public hearings on it.

Nystrom suggested the loan interest rate be set at 5 percent and stressed that this would not be a grant. The company has put its own money into the project already and has qualified for state manufacturing assistance programs. The city loan could provide the local match for that funding, Nystrom said.

"This company wants to be in Norwich in the worst way," Nystrom said Friday. "It's the best location for them and their growth. The building they're looking at couldn't be a better layout for them. It accommodates their needs and growth."

Mills said the city funding would cover building and relocation costs for the business. NCDC's financing consultant, the National Development Council, has been working with the company to reduce those costs and has been somewhat successful.

Within the next several weeks, Mills hopes to have updated financial information from the company and better financial gap figures to present to the City Council.

He stressed the urgency of the effort to land the company, hoping to complete the deal no later than early June.

An outline of the proposed plan provided by NCDC, calls for a loan fund starting with $800,000 in bonded money provided by the city that could be loaned to manufacturing businesses committed to locating in Norwich. Money paid back by companies would be placed back into the loan program for future allocation.

c.bessette@theday.com

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