News Articles

Company planning $8.3m move is seeking local tax deal

By JANE LOPES New Bedford Standard Times
July 31, 2008


MIDDLEBORO— Local officials are negotiating with a manufacturing company whose president says the firm is on a "fast track" to select a location for an $8.3 million facility in which to consolidate its operation, now operating from buildings in Pocasset and Hopedale. Middleboro is competing with other potential sites like Taunton's industrial park for the company and officials will be proposing a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement that would have to be approved by voters at a special town meeting in the fall.

Principals in Sapphire Engineering, a subsidiary in the $1.5 billion Idex Corporation, met with the selectmen Monday night along with Community Development Director Anna Nalevanko, who introduced the group.

Ms. Nalevanko said the town's TIF Committee, made up of representatives from major boards as well as the town manager and town planner, has met three times recently to discuss Sapphire's plans and the possibility of the company leasing a building in Campanelli Business Park on Rte. 18.

"We're very impressed with this type of operation," Ms. Nalevanko said. "It would compliment the type of businesses we're trying to attract."

The company supplies precision analytical and diagnostic components for original equipment manufacturers and includes Brookfield Engineering of Middleboro among its clients. Sapphire would lease an 80,000 square foot building in Campanelli Park with capacity of future expansion. Its current work force of 170 full-time employees would work out of the facility and the company expects to add 15 more employees.

In relocating, the company would be looking to participate in a state program that offers a 5 percent state tax credit as well as a local tax-reduction program, Sapphire presidents Steve Nurnberg said.

Middleboro currently has TIF agreements with 11 local businesses, offering varying local property tax relief over a period of years. In a memo to Campanelli Companies this spring, Ms. Nalevanko said a company like Sapphire might expect a TIF "in the range of 10 to 15 years" and an annual savings of at least $10,000 over a 10-year period based on past agreements the town has approved.

In its presentation to the selectmen Monday night, the company indicated that the company employs machinists, engineers, production management employees and others who are paid on average in the $45,000 range. New positions would be available to area residents.

The company's employees spend an estimated $1 million a year in the local community, according to the presentatio. Also, and as a national and international corporation Sapphire would have business guests who would stay in local hotels.

The company works with local high schools and colleges to provide internship and co-op opportunities and pays tuitition for its employees to continue their education.

Sapphire hopes to make a decision on a new location and have a TIF agreement completed within the next few weeks for a presentation to town meeting voters in late September or early October, said Lynn Tokarczyk, the company's TIF consultant.

Speaking in support of Sapphire's plans to consolidate and expand its operation in Massachusetts were Buddy Rocha, regional director of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and Claire Cole of the Cranberry Country Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Mr. Nurnberg said the company's decision will be made in part based on ease of access for employees and business purposes as well as "intangibles" —he said, for instance, that the town has been "very welcoming." But he said financial considerations such as a TIF agreement and utility costs must play a large part. The fact that Middleboro owns its gas and light services is one factor, he said.