With 4,000 Groton jobs lost, Economic Development Commission stresses urgency

Groton - The Groton Economic Development Commission on Thursday asked for a joint meeting with the Town Council in the coming weeks to stress the urgency of improving the town's economy.

"I'm a giant believer that everything can come back, but if we lose anything else, we might as well lock all the doors and turn out the lights," Commissioner Lian Obrey said.

Groton has lost 4,000 jobs from its top five employers in the last 10 years and is watching Pfizer Inc. demolish its former research headquarters on Eastern Point Road. Downtown Mystic business owners also suffered losses during the streetscape project, which coincided with bridge repairs and a recession.

Economic Development Commission Chairman George Mathanool said the commission must take an active role in pushing for change.

Last month, Councilor Bob Frink urged his colleagues to support a market analysis of Groton that would determine what businesses would most likely succeed, and come up with a plan to make them happen.

The idea was to choose two or three projects that looked promising and get behind them.

Commissioners said they would speak to the council directly about supporting the initiative.

The town owns seven school properties that could be sold and marketed, including William Seely School, adjacent to a commercial property.

"The clock is ticking," Obrey said.

Commissioner Peter Legnos said the challenge is explaining that it doesn't want another study, but rather, a plan that's actually going to accomplish something.

Groton is also applying for an airport development zone around Groton-New London Airport, which could provide tax breaks to manufacturing and other businesses that locate within a 2-mile radius.

Kristin Clarke, the economic development specialist for Groton, said she expects to submit the application for the zone to the state Department of Economic and Community Development by the end of September.

d.straszheim@theday.com
Twitter: @DStraszheim

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