February 16, 2006
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
Gov. M. Jodi Rell has proposed a $7.9
million budget for the Capital City Economic Development Authority
for the 2006-07 fiscal year, a significant increase from the $4.7
million that the agency in charge of the state's investment in downtown
Hartford received the year before.
"It's obviously a huge increase
from where we were last year," authority Assistant Director
Michael Cicchetti told the authority's board at a meeting last week.
"Moving forward, this is the start of the process, not the
Cicchetti's next few weeks will be
filled with meetings with key legislators on the appropriations
committee, and with legislative leadership to ensure that the funding
isn't cut, he said.
"I think there's a general realization
there that the $4.7 million just did not work," Cicchetti said.
Last year, the authority requested
a $6 million budget from the governor, who reduced that figure to
$5.5 million. The legislature then cut it further, to $4.7 million
- causing concern in some quarters that the state was essentially
cutting the authority's marketing budget and retreating from its
sizable investment in the city.
Recognizing the marketing funding shortfall
and rising energy costs, the state recently gave the authority an
additional $1.5 million to pay its bills for the current fiscal
"You can't sit there and have
this kind of investment if you don't give them the tools to market
it," said House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, adding that
he would do "everything in his power" to provide adequate
funding to the authority. He would not, however, commit to a dollar
It is unclear whether the governor's
proposed budget of $7.9 million, if approved, would mean that the
authority could pay to keep its marketing at current levels.
"It's encouraging that people
are seeing the important role of marketing," said H. Scott
Phelps, president of the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors
Bureau, who added that it's still too early to start celebrating.
"The state has made a huge commitment with the Connecticut
Convention Center, and we need to sell it."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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