Guilford offering tax rebate to coax company to stay

Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — The town is offering its first tax rebate for a business to manufacturing firm Arkwright in an effort to encourage the company not to relocate, First Selectman Carl Balestracci said.

By state statute, municipalities can approve tax rebates for new equipment and facilities, Balestracci said. No Guilford businesses have applied for the program in the past, he said.

If Arkwright decides to take advantage of the program, it would make an application to the Board of Selectmen for its approval. The five-year plan could offer a 50 percent rebate on the taxes for new equipment in the first year and a 40 percent rebate in the second year with decreases of 10 percent per year for the remaining three years, Balestracci said.

Arkwright employs about 100 people, 40 percent of whom live in Guilford, Balestracci said. It is one of the town’s largest manufacturers.

The company, which is headquartered in Rhode Island, makes paper and films for digital imaging, according to the company’s Web site. Jack Heath, the company’s president, said that it has had a location in Guilford for more than 30 years.

Heath said he cannot talk about specifics of the company’s business discussions. Arkwright is owned by a Dutch firm, Oce International.

“We’ve had a great relationship with the town — they’ve been very responsive to us all through the years,” Heath said. “We’re in Guilford, we plan to be in Guilford and (it’s) business as usual.”

Balestracci said that about two years ago, the chairman of the town’s Economic Development Commission told him that Arkwright was considering leaving Guilford as one option of a reorganization plan. He began meeting with Arkwright officials and a representative of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

“When you’re talking about a taxpayer that’s as big as Arkwright, to do something like this to keep them here is more than worthwhile from so many different angles — the taxes alone, the employees, plus it’s been a great firm for Guilford for a lot of years,” he said.

Dave Treadwell, a spokesman for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said his agency has not made any agreements with Arkwright, but has been in discussions with the company along with Guilford. The state can offer businesses low-interest loans for items like machinery, equipment or construction, Treadwell said.

“Generally speaking, we want to keep every company in Connecticut, especially with a company that has locations outside of the state,” he said. “We want to keep them here and have them consolidate here.”

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