The Finance Committee on Wednesday eagerly endorsed a request by Mayor Richard Alcombright to designate the nearly 100,000 square-foot building and property in the industrial park an economic opportunity area and the accompanying five-year special property tax assessment. A resolution and tax incentive will go before the City Council on Aug. 23.
The incentive is part of a package to sweeten the deal over a competing site in Manchester, Vt.
"[Owner] John Wilkinson really likes North Adams, he's made that very clear," said Alcombright, who was knowledgeable about what Vermont was offering. "I looked at the numbers that he had ... we certainly seemed to be very, very competitive; in fact, I think we're more competitive."
The mayor said the condition and size of the building, the city's lower property prices and taxes, significantly lower state workers compensation rates and state tax credits, and McCann Technical School and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts were all attractors. It also hasn't hurt that Housing and Economic Development Secretary Gregory Bialecki has spoken to the Wilkinsons on the city's behalf.
In a letter of intent to the mayor, WCW President Jeffrey Wilkinson wrote, "this project would involve the purchase of an existing building suitable to allow the relocation of our entire operation and staff. This would involved relocation of approximately 100 jobs with an annual payroll in excess of $4 million."
Local and state officials have been working with the company to bring the deal to fruition over the past six weeks.
"This is by far he most exciting, encouraging thing since ... Mass MoCA," said Councilor Keith Bona.
Michael L. Vedovelli, regional director for the state Office of Business Development, said the City Council's approval will be necessary to wrap up a package including state tax credits by a September deadline for the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council.
"It's viewed as a three-way partnership with all parties coming together," he said, describing the state's package as "aggressive."
Where a TIF, or tax increment financing, agreement allows reductions on capital investments, the STA provides for property tax discounts over the entire value. That's important, said Alcombright, because investment into the building is expected to be small while the assessment on the property is $2.2 million.