Alexion tapped as ‘First Five’ recipient

New Haven — Alexion, a global pharmaceutical company, was announced Tuesday as the recipient of up to $51 million in economic development aid that will help the company become the anchor tenant in the new Downtown Crossing project near the Yale medical campus.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, his political rival from the 2006 race for governor, in announcing the latest recipient of aid through the governor’s “First Five” program for employers willing to commit to a major expansion of jobs.

Republican legislative leaders asked the Democratic governor to share details of the state’s agreement with Alexion, a company that Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, described as “flush with cash.”

Alexion, a company founded in 1992 by a Yale faculty member, Dr. Leonard Bell, will relocate its existing Connecticut workforce of 350 from Cheshire to the building by 2015. It expects to increase employment by 200 to 300 jobs by 2017.

The move will be a homecoming: Alexion was a startup born in New Haven’s Science Park. After outgrowing its incubator space, it moved to Cheshire in 2000.

For both Malloy and DeStefano, the project solidifies their administrations’ respective efforts to make the city and state a center of a bioscience industry that Malloy says is worth $284 billion annually and is growing rapidly.


At Tuesday morning’s announcement are, left to right, Alexion company founder Dr. Leonard Bell, Gov. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

“This is an important transaction, not just in terms of bringing back home a great company,” Malloy said. The project, he said, “builds on things we’ve already done.”

The DeStefano administration had been working for three years to bring Alexion back to the city, which already is home to Yale’s medical school and hospital and 40 smaller science companies.

“Our niche is clear,” DeStefano said.

For New Haven, the project also erases what DeStefano called one of the great mistakes of urban renewal, the destruction of city neighborhoods to build Route 34, a highway off I-91 that was never finished. The city has planned to close the highway for 12 years.

Alexion’s new address will be 100 College Street, across a portion of the Route 34 Connector that will be abandoned, knitting the city’s downtown to the Yale medical campus.

The leaders of the Republican minorities in the General Assembly, McKinney and Rep. Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk, said that legislators should hold a public hearing on the aid to Alexion.

The aid includes a $20 million forgivable loan, assuming the delivery of promised jobs, plus a $6 million grant for lab construction and equipment and tax credits of up to $25 million.

“Ultimately, I hope this is a good investment for the state of Connecticut, but the public and the legislature have a right to know more about the deal,” McKinney said.

“Alexion is a world-class Connecticut-based company that will be a leader in its industry for the foreseeable future, but it is unclear at this time that $51 million in state incentives are necessary to keep them here,” Cafero said.

Malloy’s spokesman, Andrew Doba, said a previous administration already lost Alexion’s manufacturing facilities to Rhode Island, so keeping their global headquarters in Connecticut was a coup.

“With all due respect to the minority eaders, sometimes you get the feeling that they look for clouds on a sunny day. Keep in mind that it was a Republican governor that stood idly by when Alexion was looking to site their manufacturing facility,” Doba said.

Doba said the state’s interests are protected.

“We have extensive safeguards in place to protect taxpayers, including collateral requirements, a 10-year residency requirement, job creation and retention targets and capital investment requirements,” he said.

Malloy and DeStefano shared a small stage Tuesday, praising each other’s administrations. DeStefano said the Malloy administration is engaged in promoting economic development, unlike his predecessor.

Malloy joked that he and DeStefano shared lots of stages in 2006, but few of those events ended with the two Democrats posing together for photos.