Councilor: Fitchburg must do more to keep businesses
By Jack Minch, firstname.lastname@example.org om
Posted: 03/15/2013 06:39:21 AM EDT
FITCHBURG -- At-large City Councilor Marcus DiNatale said he doesn't know why New England Wire Products has decided move its operations from Fitchburg to Leominster.
But he said Fitchburg isn't doing itself any favors when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses in the city.
"I have said for years the city of Fitchburg is at a disadvantage to Leominster in terms of property-tax rate for commercial and industrial and utility rates, which we have no control over," DiNatale said Thursday.
Fitchburg's commercial tax rate is $25.26 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, while Leominster's is just $17.96.
"I'm not saying this is a reason, but to me it is a considering factor whether to come to Fitchburg or leave," DiNatale said.
Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong and city councilors this week said they are disappointed New England Wire made the decision to leave the city, but insisted they do not have ill will toward Leominster.
The Leominster City Council created an economic opportunity area and gave the company, which produces display racks for retailers, a tax-incentive financing package for making $250,000 in improvements to a 199,270-square-foot facility at 9 Mohawk Drive in the city and creating 100 new jobs.
The company announced it is transferring 117 jobs from its 85,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on Airport Road in Fitchburg in order to grow the business.
The company is applying for a state investment tax credit
based on several factors, including the building's purchase and renovations, equipment costs, depreciable assets and job growth.
Employment is a regional issue, so even though the loss of the company is difficult for Fitchburg, it's good that the workers are able to keep their jobs, Wong said.
The Twin Cities regional unemployment rate is higher than other parts of the state, so Fitchburg and Leominster must work together to bring manufacturing to the area rather than looking at it parochially, she said.
Wong appears confident her city will be able to build its commercial base even with the latest setback.
"We look forward to attracting a new company to the site and to create even more jobs for our region," she said. "I am also excited that more jobs will be created."
At-large Councilor Stephan Hay said he is disappointed with the business's move to neighboring Leominster because it hurts the city's tax base.
He said he would not blame the company for doing what is best for its own profits.
"Hopefully, the mayor and her economic team can replace them," Hay said.
At-large Councilor Dean A. Tran said it is the mayor's responsibility to help local companies stay where they are and grow.
"When we lose a business to a neighboring city because of an incentive, we have essentially failed in our mission to help our local companies stay and grow in the city," Tran wrote in an email.
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