Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 05-14-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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2 WOONSOCKET MAY 14-20, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION WOONSOCKET – Last week, the announcement that a Massachusetts- based manufacturing firm planned to relocate to Woonsocket came as a welcome source of good news in a city eager to move forward from the current health crisis. RESH Inc., a Franklin-based sheet metal fabrication company, plans to relocate its operations to Park East Drive, a short distance from Mendon Road. As part of the move, the company plans to construct a new, 65,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at an estimated cost of $9.7 million. The move has been several months in the making, according to Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt. Within the past six months, she said, she received word that RESH President Scott Langley was looking to relocate the business and began working with the company to find a location within the city. Langley looked at several properties, including the 6.1-acre parcel on Park East Drive, but initially indicated he would be moving in another direc- tion, she said. "In the meantime, he had started looking in another community, and I felt that clearly there's competition out there in other communities," said Baldelli-Hunt. Soon after, however, Langley's focus returned to Woonsocket, and the company signed a purchase and sales agreement with First Mendon Corp. for the Park East Drive prop- erty. The deal, according to Scott Gibbs, interim director for planning and development in the city, came about largely as a result of a site readi- ness grant the city secured with the assistance of Gibbs' organization, the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island. The grant, a pro- gram of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, is intended to alleviate costs related to permitting and engi- neering in order for cities and towns to attract private investors to vacant parcels. "Clearly this site we felt was prime for that, so we applied and got fund- ing. We're able to use those moneys to deal with a lot of the planning and permitting side of this project," he said. Gibbs compared the incentive to his development of Highland Corporate Park in the 1990s as head of the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island. At the time, the non- profit development corporation was able to complete the preliminary plan- ning for companies looking to move into the business park, making it a competitor to other commercial loca- tions around the state. "Unless you're able to answer a lot of those questions quickly, you basically lose your competitive abil- ity against those other sites," he said. "The whole purpose of the site readi- ness program is to answer those ques- tions." Though the Park East Drive site is located close to the entrance of Highland Corporate Park, Gibbs said the project is outside the park's boundaries and will not financially benefit his organization. A second incentive offered to the company was a tax stabilization agree- ment, a deal that requires approval by the City Council. Though news of the relocation was met with gen- erally favorable responses, it also generated some reactions from city councilors who said they knew little about the proposal prior to last week's announcement. Council President Daniel Gendron told The Breeze on Monday that, with the exception of some informal communications with the city solicitor, he knew few of the project details prior to receiving a copy of the purchase and sales agree- ment last week. "Generally speaking, I would sup- port some level of a TSA to encour- age this individual to come into the city. I just don't know how far the City Council would be willing to go," he said. The TSA will likely depend on the upcoming budget discussions and resulting tax rate, but based on the current tax rate, Councilor John Ward estimated the taxes paid by the company would be approximately $900,000 over 10 years with a TSA compared with $1.6 million without. The current taxes on the undeveloped parcel are approximately $2,800 per year. In addition, the press release indi- cates the company plans to relocate 35 jobs to the city. About a third of the company's employees already live in Woonsocket, according to the press release. Along with the manufacturing facility, the city is also considering a proposal to construct a 995-kilowatt solar array on an adjacent property on Park East Drive. The unrelated proj- ect, led by investors Keith and Wayne Beauchamp, is also located on private property outside the boundaries of Highland Corporate Park. $9.7 million manufacturing facility could hinge on tax deal By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer 4 WHEEL ALIGNMENT Starting at $ 89.95 WIPER BLADE SET Most Cars $ 20.20 RI State Inspection $55 WE'RE OPEN FOR ALL YOUR SERVICE NEEDS 36 BLACKSTONE STREET WOONSOCKET 401-766-3270 WWW.TERRYAUTOLTD.COM Gil & Meika WE BUY CARS NOW CARRYING… Falken Tires! FREE 2 Year Road Hazard Warranty. Pass/LT 2013 F150 CREW CAB, XTR Loaded, 72K miles $ 21,999 THINK SPRING! Have your vehicle checked before Summer Travel

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