FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Ron Robillard and The Chronicle
Printing Company, Inc.,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1997-374
Chairman, Northeast Connecticut
Economic Alliance Inc.; and Northeast
Connecticut Economic Alliance Inc.,
Respondents July 22, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 24, 1998, 
at which time the complainants and respondents appeared and presented testimony, 
exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The case caption was modified to reflect the 
correct name of the respondent Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance Inc.  Docket 
#FIC 1997-428, Ron Robillard and The Chronicle Printing Company, Inc. v. President, 
Windham Mills Development Corporation and Windham Mills Development Corporation 
was consolidated with the above-captioned matter for purpose of hearing.  Certain 
Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance Inc. records including, by-laws, financial 
statements and assistance agreements were reviewed in camera.
	After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and 
conclusions of law are reached:
	1.  It is found that on November 3, 1997 the respondent chairman denied a 
reporter for the complainant newspaper access to attend a meeting of the respondent 
alliance held on that date.
	2.  By letter of complaint dated November 13, 1997, and filed with the 
Commission on November 26, 1997, the complainants appealed to the Commission 
alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act.
	3.  Because there is no dispute that the reporter would have been entitled to attend 
the meeting in question if the respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-
18a(1), G.S., the dispositive issue in this case is whether the respondents are public 
agencies and therefore, subject to the requirements of the FOI Act.
	4.  The test for determining whether entities such as the respondents are public 
agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S., is set forth in Board of Trustees of 
Woodstock Academy v. FOI Commission, 181 Conn. 544 (1980), and consists of the 
following four criteria:
(a)  whether the entity performs a governmental function;
(b)  the level of government funding;
(c)  the extent of government involvement or regulation; and
(d)  whether the entity was created by government.
	5.  The Supreme Court in Connecticut Humane Society v. FOI Commission, 
218 Conn. 757, 761 (1991), advocated a case by case application of the Woodstock 
criteria, and established that all four of the foregoing criteria are not necessary for a 
finding of “functional equivalence”.  Rather “[a]ll relevant factors are to be considered 
cumulatively, with no single factor being essential or conclusive.”
	6.  It is found that the respondent alliance provides financing resources, 
management consulting and business networking to expanding, relocating, and start-up 
companies.  In this regard, the respondent alliance coordinates state, municipal, and 
private business support services, and works in conjunction with the state Department 
of Economic and Community Development.
	7.  It is also found that the respondent alliance works with the business, 
education and government sectors in the economic development of the northeast region.
	8.  It is further found that the respondent alliance neither sets government 
economic development policy, nor has any decision-making power over government 
economic development policy.
	9.  It is found however, that the respondent alliance engages in activities and 
provides services necessary to facilitate government economic development policy.
	10.  It is also found that the respondent alliance directs businesses to grant 
programs, assists them in shopping for loans and in preparing applications for financial 
assistance, lends money to businesses in distressed municipalities, and encourages 
relocation of manufacturing businesses from other areas within the state.
	11.  It is further found that the respondent alliance is governed by a fifteen 
member board of directors.  The board elects directors whenever vacancies arise.  The 
directors are affiliated with private business, higher education and government.  Of the 
fifteen current directors, two are municipal officials.
	12.  It is further found that the respondent alliance was designated an 
“implementing agency” for the Windham Mills and State Heritage Park project by the 
town of Windham, within the meaning of 32-222(j), G.S., of the Economic 
Development and Manufacturing Assistance Act of 1990.
	13.  Section 32-222(j), G.S., defines “implementing agency” as:
 …one of the following agencies designated by a 
municipality…(1)  an economic development commission, 
redevelopment agency; sewer authority or sewer 
commission; public works commission; water authority or 
water commission; port authority or port commission or 
harbor authority or harbor commission; parking authority or 
parking commission; (2)  a nonprofit development 
corporation; or (3)  any other agency designated and 
authorized by a municipality to undertake a project and 
approved by the commissioner.
	14.  The legislative policy of the Economic Development and Manufacturing 
Assistance Act is set forth at 32-221, G.S., which provides:
It is found and declared that the maintenance and continued 
development of the state's manufacturing sector is 
important to the economic welfare of the state and to the 
retention and creation of job opportunities within the state;  
that the manufacturing sector of the state's economy is 
facing increased competition from other geographic areas 
of the world;  that assistance from the state can promote the 
retention, expansion, and diversification of existing 
manufacturing businesses and encourage manufacturing 
and other economic base businesses from other geographic 
areas to locate into the state;  that assistance from the state 
can enhance employment opportunity and the tax base of 
communities, particularly in the state's more economically 
disadvantaged communities;  that the economic 
competitiveness of manufacturing and other economic base 
businesses is dependent in part upon the provision of 
adequate business support services such as day care, job 
training, education, transportation, employee housing, 
energy conservation, pollution control and recycling;  that 
state assistance to promote the retention and expansion and 
increase the competitiveness of manufacturing and other 
economic base businesses is an important function of the 
state and is a public use for which public moneys may be 
expended;  that in certain cases assistance and 
encouragement of diversification of manufacturing 
businesses within the state may promote the economic 
welfare of the state and is a public use and purpose for 
which public moneys may be expended;  that the 
participation and cooperation of the State's agencies and 
authorities in providing financial assistance will improve 
the timeliness and decrease the costs to businesses of 
providing such assistance;  and therefore the necessity in 
the public interest and for the public benefit and good for 
the provisions of sections 32-220 to 32-234, inclusive, is 
hereby declared as a matter of legislative determination.
	15.  It is also found that the respondent alliance was designated a “development 
agency” by the town within the meaning of 8-186 and 8-188, G.S., for the Windham 
Mills project.
	16.  Section 8-186, G.S., provides:
It is found and declared that the economic welfare of the 
state depends upon the continued growth of industry and 
business within the state;  that the acquisition and 
improvement of unified land and water areas and vacated 
commercial plants to meet the needs of industry and 
business should be in accordance with local, regional and 
state planning objectives;  that such acquisition and 
improvement often cannot be accomplished through the 
ordinary operations of private enterprise at competitive 
rates of progress and economies of cost;  that permitting 
and assisting municipalities to acquire and improve unified 
land and water areas and to acquire and improve or 
demolish vacated commercial plants for industrial and 
business purposes and, in distressed municipalities, to lend 
funds to businesses and industries within a project area in 
accordance with such planning objectives are public uses 
and purposes for which public moneys may be expended;  
and that the necessity in the public interest for the 
provisions of this chapter is hereby declared as a matter of 
legislative determination.
	17.  Section 8-188, G.S., in relevant part, provides:
Any municipality which has a planning commission is 
authorized … to designate … a nonprofit development 
corporation as its development agency and exercise through 
such agency the powers granted under this chapter….  Any 
municipality may, with the approval of the commissioner, 
designate a separate economic development commission, 
redevelopment agency or nonprofit development 
corporation as its development agency for each 
development project undertaken by the municipality 
pursuant to this chapter.
	18.  It is found that the respondent alliance developed a “municipal development 
project” within the meaning of 32-222(l), G.S.  Section 32-222(l), G.S., defines 
“municipal development project” to mean “a business development project through which 
real property is acquired by a municipality or implementing agency as part of such 
project.”
	19.  It is also found that the respondent alliance created Windham Mills 
Development Corporation in 1994 to acquire the Windham Mills property and to execute 
the respondent alliance’s “municipal development project” with respect to the 
redevelopment of such property.  The respondent alliance took the property by eminent 
domain, acting as the town’s authorized agent.  The respondent alliance paid the town 
$1.00 in consideration for the property and then transferred title of the property to 
Windham Mills Development Corporation.
	20.  It is further found that promoting economic development is a governmental 
function and that the respondent alliance is performing that function.
	21.  It is further found that the respondent alliance is substantially funded by 
state and local government, primarily through grants and loans.  The respondent 
alliance also receives funding from the town of Plainfield in connection with dog racing 
events.  Such funding is authorized by 12-575(m)(3)(B), G.S., which provides that the 
respondent alliance receive two-tenths of one per cent of the total money wagered on 
dog racing events at any dog track operating prior to July 5, 1991.
	22.  It is further found that the respondent alliance maintains its office on the 
campus of Eastern Connecticut State University.  Such office space is provided free to the 
respondent alliance by the university in exchange for services provided to ECSU, for 
example, the respondent alliance acts as a liaison to the business community.
	23.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent alliance receives substantial 
funding from the government.
	24.  It is found that the government does not impose extensive, or day to day 
supervision upon the respondent alliance.
	25.  However, it is found that the respondent alliance is subject to substantial 
government involvement and regulation as a result of its function and the funding it 
receives.  Consequently, the respondent alliance is subject to various reporting and 
auditing requirements.
	26.  It is found that the respondent alliance is a nonstock, nonprofit corporation, 
exempt from federal income tax pursuant to 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
	27.  It is also found that the respondent alliance was created in 1990 by a group 
of local residents interested in promoting the economic growth and base in the region 
encompassing the towns of Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplain, Columbia, 
Coventry, Eastford, Hampton, Killingly, Mansfield, Plainfield, Pomfret, Putnam, 
Scotland, Sterling, Thompson, Willington, Windham, Woodstock and Union.
	28.  It is concluded that the respondent alliance was not created by government.
	29.  It is further concluded, based upon the totality of all relevant factors, that the 
respondents are the equivalent of public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S., 
and consequently, violated the FOI Act by denying the complainants’ reporter access to 
the November 3, 1997 meeting.
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of 
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of the 
FOI Act.


	Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular 
meeting of July 22, 1998.


_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF 
EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO 
THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR 
AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Ron Robillard and The Chronicle Printing Company, Inc.
c/o Ron Robillard
One Chronicle Road
P.O. Box 148
Willimantic, CT 06226-0148
Chairman, Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance Inc.; and Northeast Connecticut 
Economic Alliance Inc.
c/o Atty. Lisa Silvestri
56 Arbor Street
Hartford, CT 06106

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1997-374/FD/tcg/07291998