Northern Pass says it will provide $7.5 million to fund a job-creation effort in Coos County, but the money won’t be available unless the controversial project is approved.
Northern Pass wanted to do something beyond the estimated 1,200 construction jobs the project would create statewide, said Gary Long, the past president of Public Service and now an official with Northern Pass.
“A million dollars will be made available upon the beginning of construction of the Northern Pass Project and then $500,000 per year thereafter until we have used up the seven and one-half million fund,” Long said.
A committee of local business and community leaders will decide how to best use those funds, Long said.
“People who know this area best of all know what its needs are best of all,” he said.
To get that group started $200,000 will be available before Northern Pass gets the okay.
Former Senator John Gallus of Berlin praised the idea.
“An economic development fund of this nature is bound to help us go out there and find some job opportunities for the people of this county,” he said.
Coos County Commissioner Rick Samson said such a contribution could help the county. But he called the amount “chump change” compared to the profit of Northeast Utilities, the parent company of Northern Pass.
And, Samson didn’t like the money being linked to the approval of the Northern Pass project.
“Oh, I think they are trying to buy the project,” he said.
Gary Long said that is not the case.
“This is about jobs creation, good corporate citizenship,” Long said.
Former Senator Gallus said he had no problem with the jobs fund being tied to the approval of the project.
“I think that’s fair to say that should our project go forward we are giving you this money. Should the project fail….I don’t think there is any business in its right mind that would want to put that type of money forward and say we are not at the end of the day doing what we want to do also,” he said.