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‘Project Fusion’: Bond villain’s evil scheme, or state eco-devo offer?

Author: Mark Harden - May 21, 2018 - Updated: May 23, 2018

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When he’s not petting his cat, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the quintessential villain of James Bond movies, is usually plotting some nefarious and complex means of doing away with 007. In the latest Bond movie, “Spectre,” it involved some unpleasant business with a drill.

But no, “Project Fusion” is not the name of a diabolical Blofeld scheme. (At least, not yet.)

Instead it’s one of the code names for several tax-incentive packages valued at a combined $25 million that were approved last Thursday by the Colorado Economic Development Commission in hopes of luring companies and jobs to the state.

When a business goes shopping for a place to expand or move its headquarters, it often reaches out to state and local governments for incentive offers — usually, tax breaks — in exchange for creating an agreed-upon number of jobs over a certain time span.

The Colorado EDC is the outfit that makes such offers on behalf of the state. Typically it offers incentives without identifying the company to which the offer is being made, for competitive reasons. It does disclose that it has made an offer, the dollar amount, and the number of jobs promised in exchange for the offer, but not the potential recipient.

Instead, the EDC identifies its incentives offers with colorful code names.

As Monica Vendituoli of the Denver Business Journal reports, this latest batch of state incentive deals includes “Project Nerd Happiness,” “Project Safari,” and, yes, “Project Fusion.”

As Vendituoli reports, the $1.2 million “Project Fusion” incentives package was offered to:

… an unidentified provider of complex electronic warfare systems to the U.S. government headquartered in Las Cruces, New Mexico, that is considering moving its corporate headquarters to Colorado Springs. If the company chooses Colorado over New Mexico and Alabama, it would create 64 jobs at an average wage of $108,116.

Now, as you may have heard, the state is bidding on Amazon.com Inc.’s $5 billion second-headquarters campus — HQ2.

Whether the bid includes a tax-incentives offer isn’t known; that part of the bid is secret.

But if you ever scan the Colorado EDC minutes and see a reference to something like “Project Two-Day Delivery,” you’ll know the game’s afoot.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.