The Herald News, Wednesday, November 5, 2014 – Page A6

Fall River – The city’s Tax Increment Financing Board is scheduled to convene on Thursday to discuss a tax incentive agreement with the giant Internet retailer Amazon.com. The company is eyeing a site that straddles Fall River and Freetown to develop a million-square-foot fulfillment center in the South Coast Life Sciences and Technology Park with an investment of $200 million.

The TIF Board will meet at 4 p.m. in the office of Mayor Will Flanagan on the sixth-floor of Government Center. Members of the board include Flanagan, Fall River Office of Economic Development Board President Frank Marchione, Board of Assessors Chairman Richard Gonsalves, City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros, City Council President Joseph Camara and City Councilors Michael Miozza and Jasiel Correia II.

The Fortune 35 company sent both communities letters of intent in late October and indicated the giant facility would create 1,000 jobs full-time jobs with an average annual starting pay of $35,000 plus benefits. In addition, Amazon would hire for hundreds of part-time and temporary jobs.

“It’s very important to provide a good incentive package to Amazon in order to finalize an agreement,” Flanagan said. “Amazon, in its selection to build the facility, looked at many communities. And their interest is to construct it here.”

While Amazon’s letter indicates it would lease a facility, Flanagan said that Amazon intends to purchase land and build the facility in the biopark. What parcels Amazon is considering is still pending.

Once the city board approves an agreement, Flanagan said he will ask the City Council to hold a special meeting before its November 19 regular meeting to approve the TIF. Flanagan said he hopes the agreement with Amazon could be completed by Christmas.

Freetown’s TIF Board was scheduled to meet Tuesday night, and the Board of Selectmen plans to meet today to authorize the agreement, according to Town Administrator Jack Healey. He said there is a tentative date of November 19 for a special Town Meeting to approve a tax agreement.

FROED Executive Vice President Kenneth Fiola Jr., whose agency has been negotiating the deal with Amazon since 2012, said Tuesday he was working on the tax agreement for the city but declined to give any specifics. The details of the city tax agreement will be made public during the TIF Board meeting.

Fiola said he’s been working with representatives from Freetown and the state Office of Housing and Economic Development.

According to the letter of intent to Fall River, Amazon is looking to enter into an Economic Development Incentive Program agreement with the state agency. It’s similar to the state-approved agreement announced by Gov. Deval Patrick in September for a smaller so-called package-handling “pass through” facility in the town of Stoughton from a larger distribution center. The state approved $600,000 in EDIP tax credits.

Stoughton voters approved a 10-year tax increment agreement on the personal property, or inventory at the facility, worth nearly $3 million.

According to the Patriot Ledger, the deal brings with it 125 full-time jobs and additional part-time and seasonal positions and town leaders expected the facility to be operational by years end.

Patrick Lawlor, spokesperson for the Office of Housing and Economic Development, said it’s premature for the state to discuss any tax agreements with Amazon for a new facility and the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council, which approves any EDIP agreements. The council next meets in December.

If a deal is reached, Amazon indicated it plans to begin construction the first quarter of 2015, and facility would be fully operational by the second half of 2016.

By Jo C. Goode
Email: jgoode@heraldnews.com