The Mansfield Town Council on Wednesday night passed a motion authorizing town manager Derrick Kennedy to sign a letter of agreement with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) and the University of Connecticut for the Opportunity Zone Action Plan.
The motion passed by a vote of 7-1-1. Councilman David Freudmann was the sole vote against the motion. Councilman Peter Kochenburger was absent.
Freudmann said he voted against signing the agreement because he felt that an agreement with UConn is not beneficial for Mansfield.
“I’m suspicious of this whole idea,” Freudmann said.
Having an agreement with the university would be beneficial to the town because development on campus might be able to attract development off-campus, Kennedy said.
The northwest corner of Mansfield, which encompasses part of the university, was recently designated as a federal opportunity zone by Gov. Dannel Malloy, Kennedy said.
The opportunity zone collaboration plan would provide services by CERC for the town and the university over the course of 16 months and cost $60,000. UConn has agreed to pay for $25,000 and the town would pay the remaining $35,000, Kennedy said.
The Connecticut Economic Resource Center is a nonprofit corporation and public-private partnership that drives economic development in the state, according to their website.
“CERC… offers a complete range of services from economic impact analysis, strategic planning, data gathering and communications, to outreach, site selection and business assistance,” the CERC website says.
Being an opportunity zone will bring economic development and programs that will create jobs to Mansfield, Kennedy said.
“Very high income people can invest in development or programs that create jobs,” Kennedy said.
Mansfield was the only non-urban center in Connecticut that has an opportunity zone. Mansfield has an anchor institution, the university, that will attract economic development, Kennedy said.
Kennedy stressed the importance of signing this agreement because there are other parts of Connecticut, such as parts of Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury, that were also designated as opportunity zones.
Having this agreement would be “rolling the red carpet out for investment,” Kennedy said.
Daniela Luna is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.