NH Senate panel backs ARMI tax break
Measure also includes student loan forgiveness for workers in industry
Late Thursday evening, the NH Senate voted in favor of a bill that would exempt companies participating in the budding regenerative manufacturing industry from state business taxes and forgive the student loans of those who work in the industry in New Hampshire.
This development was after the NH Senate Ways and Means Committee backed Senate Bill 564 on Wednesday.
The committee, which had been skeptical about targeted tax breaks throughout the year, agreed that the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute launched in the Manchester Millyard by entrepreneur Dean Kamen is a special case, both because it would create a new industry in New Hampshire and because it would help veterans.
“This bill will encourage companies from around the globe to come to New Hampshire, set up shop and be an integral part of creating this new technology where we will see injury repair in humans become a reality,” said Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, who has often criticized other tax breaks as government picking winners and losers. Sanborn lauded the program for benefiting “wounded warriors” who suffered injuries on the battlefield.
The committee seemed to be convinced by the bill’s sponsor Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, who argued in a February hearing that this is a unique situation because the industry doesn’t exist and there would be no lost revenue.
“It’s not a matter of what we are going to lose, but what we will not gain if we don’t do this,” said Bradley.
ARMI has a an $80 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to find a way to commercialize tissue regeneration, allowing the growth of organs with a person’s own cells, without the problems of long waits for, and possible rejections of, organs from another donor.
But while the nonprofit entity, which bills itself as a catalyst for the industry, is located in the Millyard, that doesn’t mean all the businesses it funds will be located here. Indeed, ARMI has been approached by such states as California and Texas that offered billions of dollars of incentives to bring the industry there, testified Maureen K. Toohey, an attorney who works with Kaman on the project.
“We can be successful but we don’t need to be successful in New Hampshire,” she said, adding quickly that she would like to lure the industry here. “To level the playing field,” she said the state needs to counter the “chilling” affect of the business enterprise tax, which requires companies to pay based on their payroll, whether they earned a profit or not. She also raised the concern that the institute would not be able to find enough workers as the company grows in New Hampshire.
SB 564 would give a 10-year break to businesses that put three-quarters of their resources into business related to regenerative tissue. It also would forgive the loans of students who work in the regenerative industry in New Hampshire for five years.
The New Hampshire Business Finance Authority would work out the details of the latter program, which Bradley said would eventually pay for itself because of the industry’s eventual contribution to the economy.
The bill now moves on to the Senate Finance Committee before it gets to the House.