Update: Bio-pharma start-up company picks Lee for $9 million project


LEE -- A start-up company wants to invest $9 million creating dozens of jobs at the Lee Corporate Center on Route 102.

Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, a newly incorporated bio-pharmaceutical company, is poised to buy the center for $1 million from the Lee Community Development Corp., pending approval next month of a local tax break plan, according to CDC officials and BSM’s principal owner, Shawn Kinney of Lenox.

If the Lee Annual Town Meeting on May 8 approves the Tax Increment Finance plan, both parties expect to close the deal in June. The Lee Board of Assessors and BSM are currently negotiating the terms of the proposed TIF agreement that would affect any new property taxes generated by the project. The new owners would still be responsible for paying the full tax bill on the current assessed value of the 15-acre site which for fiscal 2014 is almost $31,000.

Kinney says his firm would need another 18 months after the sale -- at a cost of $8 million -- to begin operations, initially using up to 20,000 square feet of the 116,000-square-foot building. The new ownership won’t displace the current tenants because they will be a financial benefit for the commercial venture.

"We’ll have ample room for the first five years and the tenants will generate revenue for our business plan," Kinney said.

That plan calls for hiring 60 employees the first five years, with more jobs depending on the company’s growth, he added.

BSM intends to use state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and sterilization techniques to address risks associated with drugs manufactured by small companies that lack modern facilities, equipment and rigorous quality control systems. BSM would manufacture samples of clinical injectable drugs and ship them back to the pharmaceutical or bio-tech firms for testing.

While the $1 million sale price is nearly half the $2.19 million assessed value for local property tax purposes, Lee CDC board President David Bruce says the deal is worth the potential long-term gain for the local economy.

"It means 60 jobs and the best opportunity to turn the Corporate Center back into private ownership," he noted. "This is huge for the town of Lee and Berkshire County."

The company had looked at locations in Pittsfield, North Adams and other area locations before settling on Lee.

Kinney is confident the Berkshires has the skilled labor BSM needs to start up and hopefully expand.

"The workforce out here will work well with our business model," he said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.
On Twitter: @BE_DLindsay


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