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Scholastic book firm plans to leave Marlboro

April 7, 2007

Scholastic, the largest publisher and distributor of children’s books in the world, plans to move part of its multimillion-dollar Scholastic Book Fairs operation to the Regency warehouse at 100 Adams Road.

However, the deal hinges on whether the Florida-based company receives a 5 percent tax credit on its investments and also gets property tax relief via tax increment financing from the town.   Selectmen, who met with Scholastic representatives Wednesday evening, voted unanimously to enter into negotiations on the tax proposals.
Andy Spencer, Scholastic’s general manager for its New England region, told the board that the company’s operation in Marlboro has become too small and it could not find suitable space there.

The company is considering leasing 66,000 square feet in the Adams Road warehouse, which has a total of 344,000 square feet. It would be leased as a distribution center for books.

Mr. Spencer said the company plans to invest $1.2 million, including $250,000 for improvements and $950,000 for new machinery and equipment. He said 35 full-time jobs would be moved from Marlboro to Clinton, and 10 additional full-time jobs would be created, with an average salary of about $35,000 a year. Mr. Spencer said the types of jobs include drivers, book packers and quality assurance and administrative jobs.

Scholastic Book Fairs has been the largest operator of school-based book fairs for 25 years. Mr. Spencer said the fairs sell more than 122 million books a year to 43,000 children at more than 160,000 fairs all over the world. The books, which are for preschool through middle school, are bargain-priced, from $1 to $6.50.

Mr. Spencer said the company would hold “customer appreciation days,” during which the warehouse would be open to the public and books discounted from 30 percent to 80 percent. The public would also be invited to a grand opening event, scheduled for August if the negotiations come to fruition.

Lynn Tokarczyk, president of Medway-based Business Development Strategies, who gave the presentation with Mr. Spencer, said they hope an agreement can be reached on the tax incentives by the end of this month, so a TIF proposal could be put before voters at the June annual town meeting. Donald A. Lowe, director of the Clinton Community and Economic Development Office, which Mr. Spencer credited with helping find the space and developing a proposal, recommended a TIF with Scholastic.

Maegen N. McCaffrey, president of the Wachusett Chamber of Commerce, praised the proposal as well.

“Filling a building that is empty is a very, very positive thing for the town,” she said.
Ms. McCaffrey said the company would trigger ripple effects to spark Clinton’s economy.