Pittsfield planners confident in chances to land railcar facility
PITTSFIELD -- Economic planners displayed confidence Tuesday in a multimillion dollar incentive package hastily drawn up in the hope of attracting a major railcar manufacturer to the city.
Several companies among the nine seeking a state contract worth as much as $1.3 billion visited Pittsfield and showed "strong interest in Berkshire County," said Pittsfield Econ-
omic Development Authority Executive Director Corydon L. Thurston.
The incentive package and proposed site -- located in a William Stanley Business Park off East Street, where exists a 125,000-square-foot foundation upon which a manufacturing plant could be built -- put Pittsfield in good running against other municipalities that will no doubt vie for attention.
"We think we're leading the pack," Thurston said at a meeting of the Community and Economic Development Sub-
Thurston and Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, among others, hope companies planning to bid for the contract will consider a home in Pittsfield.
In exchange, they hope to offer $2 million -- half from an economic development fund set up by GE and half from PEDA -- in incentives, in addition to a tax increment financing agreement that would see the company pay little, if any, in property taxes on value added by the company.
"We're hopeful that this is the kind of incentive that will set us apart from other communities," Bianchi said. "I'm very confident that we will be in the game."
The contract is to build 226 railcars for the Massachusetts Transit Bay Authority's Orange Line at $2 million to $3 million per car. Bidders must submit to the state by May 1 and identify where they intend to operate if given the contract.
Pittsfield first needs to be chosen by at least one company, and then that company chosen by the state, if it's to house the operation.
Planners set forth some stipulations, outlined in a new 44-page document, at Tuesday's meeting.
They propose to pay out one of the million-dollar incentives in $333,333 installments upon certain conditions being met.
Starting construction on an estimated $20 million facility in the park -- to include a building shell, cranes, train tracks and more -- would gain the company the first of these. The second it would receive along with the certificate of occupancy. The final, after it creates and preserves for eight years at least 100 jobs paying $35,000.
City Community Develop-
ment Director Douglas Clark said a promissory note also is written in to protect the city in case the company moves production or goes bankrupt.
All city councilors present received the details positively.
What happens if the city isn't chosen? They wanted to know.
"If we're not successful with this particular project, we may be successful with some of the component part manufacturers," Bianchi said.
Councilor Jonathan Lothrop did note that delivery of the 44-page document came far too late in the day to give it a full read before the 7 p.m. meeting.
"Getting this big packet at 11 o'clock this morning offered me no opportunity to read it," Lothrop said. "I like to do my reading and my due diligence."
The full council will take up the matter again Tuesday.
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