LEE -- A start-up company expected to add 60 new manufacturing jobs to the local economy wants to be fully operational by next summer.
Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing announced Tuesday that it had bought the former Lee Corporate Center for $1 million from the Lee Community Development Corp. The deal was finalized Monday, according to Lee CDC President David Bruce.
"We need to get good paying jobs back in town," said Bruce.
BSM, a newly formed bio-pharmaceutical company, plans to invest another $8 million to create a manufacturing facility by initially using 20,000 of the available 40,000 square feet of warehouse space at the Route 102 complex.
The firm will spend the next nine months designing and constructing the manufacturing facility followed by another three months of building the employee base and starting to contract with prospective customers, according to BSM Senior Vice President of Business Development Andrea Wagner.
"We have many people contacting us about orders and we have talked with several prospective customers," she said.
BSM intends to use state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and sterilization techniques to address risks associated with drugs that are manufactured by small companies that lack modern facilities, equipment and rigorous quality control systems. The company will make supplies and ship them back to the pharmaceutical or biotech firms for use in clinical testing of new drugs.
The $1 million sale price is nearly half of the corporate center's assessed value of $2.19 million that was set by the town.
Bruce said the deal is worth the potential long-term gain for the local economy.
"We hadn't received the financial benefits of the center in recent years and we always intended to put the building back in private hands," he said.
BSM plans to rename the one-time KB Toys headquarters the Berkshire Corporate Center, and retain its 16 current tenants. The firm will also upgrade the security system, common space and other aspects of the 116,000-square-foot building.
"We love having the tenants there, we love the [rental] income and we hope to expand our relationship with them," Wagner said. "Our goal is to make the place more inviting for Berkshire Sterlile manufacturing and the tenants."
The company had looked at locations in Pittsfield, North Adams and other area locations before settling on Lee.
BSM's promise of 60 well-paying jobs over a five-year period was a big selling point for annual town meeting voters, who in May approved a Tax Increment Finance agreement for the firm. The TIF will affect any new property taxes generated by BSM over a 15-year period, starting in fiscal 2016, according to town officials.
Town officials have said 100 percent of the new taxes will be forgiven in the first two years of the TIF. They will gradually decrease by 5 or 10 percent increments, until the full tax bill is due after the 15th year.
The new owners are still responsible for paying the full tax bill on the current assessed value of the 15-acre property the bulding sits on, which was almost $31,000 in fiscal 2014.
Wagner said anyone interested in employment or other aspects of BSM should email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.