Third-party ticket exchange TicketNetwork will receive nearly $8 million in government loans and incentives under Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s “First Five” job creation initiative,...

Third-party ticket exchange TicketNetwork will receive nearly $8 million in government loans and incentives under Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s “First Five” job creation initiative, an effort to help keep growing businesses in the state and improve private sector employment.

TicketNetwork is the second business to participate in the program, which calls on the company to keep 300 jobs in Connecticut and add 200 new, full-time jobs over the next two years, and add up to a possible 600 new jobs over the next 10 years. Health insurer Cigna Corp. was the first company to participate in the First Five initiative, agreeing to move its headquarters to the state and add 200 jobs in exchange for at least $50 million in incentives.

During a ceremony earlier today, July 21, at TicketNetwork’s new corporate headquarters — a 194,000-square-foot office complex in South Windsor that formerly housed specialty sign and automation company Gerber Scientific — Malloy, TicketNetwork founder and CEO Don Vaccaro and a host of state and local officials announced the company’s participation in the program.

“TicketNetwork has been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the country,” Malloy said in prepared remarks. “I want to make sure that these types of innovative enterprises establish roots here in Connecticut, and continue to create jobs and make capital investments that will directly benefit the local and state economies. Creating a public/private partnership like we are doing through the First Five program is a smart way to support local jobs for residents, while at the same time ensuring that Connecticut reaps the many direct – and indirect – benefits of this expansion project over the long term.”

TicketNetwork has a proven record of job creation, having experienced significant growth over the past several years. The company has more than tripled its workforce to 338 employees since 2007 (the company was founded in 2002) and plans to add, among others, high-level IT, marketing, software engineering and web development jobs over the next two years.

Under the initiative, TicketNetwork is set to receive a 10-year, $4.5 million loan from the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) for certain capital expenditures; a five-year, $1.8 million loan from the Connecticut Development Authority for IT equipment and other assets; a grant of $250,000 to $450,000 for creation of at least 200 jobs (or 600 jobs to receive the full $450,000); and a grant of up to $1 million for alternative energy equipment, such as solar, wind or fuel cell systems.

“The state’s ‘First Five’ program will enhance TicketNetwork’s job growth initiatives in the $4.5 billion ticket resale sector, a secondary industry that continues to evolve. Event ticket resales represent one of the fastest growing areas in business today,” Vaccaro said in a statement.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate currently hovers around 9.1 percent, and over the past several years the state has lost more than 120,000 jobs, which makes Malloy’s initiative all the more important. “We want to let companies know that we’re pro-job growth and pro-business,” the governor said.

Catherine Smith, commissioner of the DECD, said in order for Connecticut to compete in the current economic environment, the state must reverse its past “poor performance” of creating jobs. And, the First Five program seeks to do that with a “smart investment of taxpayer dollars.”

“That’s what the new First Five program is all about. It is a powerful economic development tool that allows us to make strategic investments in a broad array of companies, including technology-driven ones like TicketNetwork that will bolster our state’s reputation as a home to innovative companies and talented, productive workers,” Smith said.

TicketNetwork is the parent company of TicketNews.