New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Commentary

A Tale of Two Companies

The relocation of Polamer Precision to Pinnacle Heights is a great step forward for the city of New Britain. Businesses, especially larger companies, with large amounts of taxable property are always a benefit to the city as well as the tax payers. When the grand list is made up primarily of industrial and commercial property then the burden placed on homeowners is lessened dramatically. In order for a city to thrive it needs a grand list that is not overly reliant on homeowner property taxes.

This is why the Mayor needs to move forward aggressively with the Costco development. For months now the administration has been silent on the issue, and while I have been assured by multiple people that things are “in the works” there is little to suggest there is any motion.

Polamer Precision and Costco are two very different companies, but both are needed here in New Britain. While Polamer Precision is suggesting that after the move they will create 20 new jobs, and perhaps eventually an additional 45 jobs in years to come Costco is planning on creating close to 200 jobs on day one. That doesn’t include the employment boost that will come from the various construction projects that will center around the new retail location.

Polamer Precision certainly creates high paying jobs, where machine operators can receive $25 per hour. But there is a common misconception that factory jobs are still a gateway profession for unskilled labor. Modern manufacturing requires skilled workers. The vast majority of unskilled manufacturing is now done overseas. There are few positions within manufacturing for unskilled labor and they are becoming less and less common every day. It is no longer the case that you can get a job working an assembly line in any of a dozen factories with a high school diploma.

While Costco may not provide the same entry level salary opportunities as Polamer Precision, they still start employees well above minimum wage and have a corporate structure in which the vast majority of their employees qualify for medical and retirement benefits. More importantly, Costco will provide entry level jobs for an unskilled workforce. These are crucial to help move people from a lower economic status to a more middle class economic status. A company like Costco can provide many people with a decent job while allowing them to build skills that make them more marketable for other better paying positions.

Taxes are another factor. The Mayor is being secretive about what incentives are being offered to Polamer Precision for relocating to New Britain, but it is common for companies to ask for tax breaks, or even complete tax write offs, for a number of years. That means that it may be a long while before the city coffers benefit directly from this new business. Costco, however, was given no incentives, a credit to Stewart’s administration. That means that from the first day of business the city will see close to half a million in additional tax revenue, on top of all the secondary benefits.

The Mayor should be proud of the fact that Polamer Precision is coming to New Britain, but he should also remember that we need job opportunities for all of our residents, not just our college graduates and our skilled labor force. I look forward to seeing the press release from the Mayor’s office where he is talking about the groundbreaking for Costco’s store and the hundreds of jobs and thousands of dollars that will bring our city as well.

(Mercier writes a story once a month based on concerns of members of the Citizens Property Owners Association)