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Added Incentive To Local Businesses

What do Covidien, Autopart International, Smith and Nephew and Samsonite have in common? All are big corporations that received local or state tax breaks to expand and create additional jobs in the Attleboro area with help from Lynn Tokarczyk’s Business Development Strategies.

The Medway-based business celebrates its 10th anniversary this year

Tokarczyk, a former fashion retailer who bootstrapped her way to a role as a high-powered business consultant, has sparked at least 60 major business expansion projects throughout the state by helping corporations obtain local and state tax incentives.

By BDS’ count, those incentives led the way to $700 million in capital investment, helped retain 10,000 Bay State jobs and created an additional 5,000 jobs.

Tokarczyk, who founded BDS in 2003 following a stint with consulting giant Ernst and Young, sees herself and her company as problem solvers.

“Our logo has a key,” said Tokarczyk, a former business development official in the Cellucci administration. “We open doors and unlock value for our clients.”

Tokarczyk began her career as owner of an upscale women’s apparel shop in Wayland before joining the Massachusetts Office of Business Development in 1995. While serving as a project manager and eventually regional director, Tokarczyk discovered a new passion helping Massachusetts businesses get an edge.

Armed with her knowledge of government policies and programs, Tokarczyk joined Ernst & Young’s New England Area State and Local Tax Incentives Practice in 2000 as a manager and dealmaker working with Fortune 500 companies.

In 2003, she further leveraged that knowledge and experience opening BDS as a startup with two employees. The company now has a team of 10 specialists ranging from CPAs to tax experts.

Tokarczyk’s company has worked with dozens of clients to obtain local and state tax advantages, such as tax incentive finance agreements, more commonly known as TIFs, that allows companies to reduce their property tax burdens for up to 20 years.

In return, companies are expected to invest in the community and hire additional workers. Such deals must be approved by local councils or town meeting vote, as well as the state.

BDS helps companies navigate the road to obtaining TIFs, state tax credits and other breaks by orchestrating everything from initial applications to formal presentations and conducting negotiations.

Samsonite was one of BDS’s early successes. In 2005, the company sought help in securing a special tax assessment and a state investment tax credit as part of relocating its offices from Warren, R.I., to Mansfield. Samsonite received its incentives and brought in 120 new full-time jobs.

Tokarczyk says the state’s Economic Development Incentive Program has been a hole card for the state in helping to attract businesses that could just as easily have gone elsewhere.

“Businesses are very cost-conscious,” she said, adding that when other factors are equal, tax incentives can be a deal-maker bringing businesses into the Bay State. “This is a very good economic development tool for us.”

But a big part of BDS’s mission has been raising awareness.

“A lot of companies don’t know about these incentives,” she said.

Tokarczyk, who credits much of her success to her experience working in the Cellucci administration, has a number of fans among former state government associates. Cellucci shortly before his death wrote a glowing endorsement.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts Executive Vice President for Legislative Affairs John Regan, who also worked with Tokarczyk under Cellucci, called her a valuable contributor to the state’s economic health.

“Her pro-business attitude and background and knowledge of government incentives continue to be essential to the business community and have assisted in significantly enhancing the business climate in Massachusetts,” he wrote.

Even the recession of 2008-2009 had little effect on the demand for BDS’s services as businesses continue to seek to take advantage of incentives, Tokarczyk said.

“Our phones never stop ringing.”