News Articles

Firm Eyes Ayer For HQ

By Kirk Boutselis, Lowell Sun Correspondent
December 5, 2007


 AYER -- One of the nation's largest defense contractors is looking to consolidate two of its local operations by moving into an abandoned building in Ayer in what could be a significant boost to the local economy.

New York-based L-3 Communications -- the parent company of Concord-based L-3 Communications ESSCO Inc., and Auburn-based Wolf Coach Inc. -- has set its sights on a 216,010-square-foot building at 24 Nemco Way, with the expectation of leasing and renovating the property to meet its manufacturing requirements.

A caveat to the proposal, however, is a blueprint for voters to offer ESSCO a 20-year tax-increment financing agreement, or TIF, at Special Town Meeting on Dec. 17.

The TIF agreement, which is a feature of the Massachusetts Economic Development Incentive Program, encourages companies to invest and grow in communities through a sliding-scale property-tax exemption based on the increased value of the property due to on-site renovations.

According to estimations provided by ESSCO, the TIF, if approved by voters, would add more than $6 million in estimated tax revenue to the town's coffers over the life of the agreement with current and new investments. ESSCO also estimates the move could boost the economy by about $1.3 million annually with local establishments.

Lynn Tokarczyk, ESSCO's government-incentive consultant, said the Ayer site was chosen during a nationwide search in the hopes of retaining its 235 manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts with aspirations of adding 30 more full-time positions.

"The town has been great," she said. "They've been very, very pro-business. (The site) is a great middle ground to maintain that skilled work force in this area."

While Tokarczyk would not identify other sites ESSCO has looked at, she said a failure of the TIF agreement at Special Town Meeting would likely change the company's business plan. The company has already inquired about other sites in Boston's Metrowest area, out of state and internationally.

Selectmen unanimously recommended the article during their meeting on Nov. 20 but signed the document last night.

"(ESSCO) is going to contribute a lot to this town and the region," selectmen Chairman Gary Luca said. "It's a win-win for the town and the business."

"This is the first new business we've brought into town in a long time," Selectman Pauline Conley said. "If this is a business that's willing to come into town and pay our tax rate, then I say let's bring them in."

L-3 Communications ESSCO Inc. is a designer and manufacturer of ground-based, shipboard and airborne radomes and high-precision antenna systems for the military, air-traffic control and weather radar.

Wolf Coach Inc. is a designer and manufacturer of mobile broadcast telecommunication platforms and custom-designed vehicles for the military, homeland security and television stations.