TIF for food company approved

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photoA Lynn gourmet company is looking to expand operations by moving to 11 Parker St. in Gloucester, pictured here, and the city is negotiating a tax increment financing agreement.

The Gloucester City Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to offer a financing carrot to an Italy-based pasta sauce and food manufacturer seeking to move its U.S. operations to the Gloucester waterfront.

The council, meeting in special session via webinar, voted 9-0 to provide Buona Compagnia Gourmet with a five-year tax increment financing exemption as an incentive for the company’s prospective move into 25,000 square feet in the building at 11-15 Parker St., directly before the entrance onto the Everett R. Jodrey State Fish Pier.

The space has been vacant since the Whole Foods grocery chain closed its Pigeon Cove Seafood operation at 15 Parker St. in the summer of 2019.

“They are a pasta sauce and dip manufacturer of high quality foods,” city Economic Development Director Sal Di Stefano told the councilors during the public hearing that preceded the vote. “They are based in Italy, but their U.S. headquarters is currently in Lynn and they’re looking to expand in Gloucester.”

The TIF, one of the city’s few tangible tools for luring new businesses, is not a reduction in taxes. Instead, it is a discount on any incremental tax increase created by the company’s investments in equipment and job creation.

BC Gourmet said it expects to bring 25 existing jobs to the head of the harbor location and plans to add eight more full-time positions over the next five years.

It said it also expects to invest about $1.2 million in the relocation - $900,000 to build out the space to accommodate its needs and $300,000 in new equipment.

The tax increment exemption, according to the city, would provide an estimated $14,167 in discounts to any incremental tax increases tied to the company’s investments.

The discount in the first year would be 90% and 80% in the second year of the TIF. It would decline to 70% in the third year, 60% in the fourth year and 50% in the fifth and final year.

City Assessor Gary Johnston has stated the TIF would begin in fiscal year 2023, using fiscal year 2022 as the base.

Two of the company’s senior executives -- Chief Executive Officer Daniele Diotallevi and Chief Financial Officer Alessandro Topan -- joined the webinar from Italy.

“We decided to come to the U.S. and start producing in the U.S. a few years ago,” Diotallevi said. “We established our operation in 2017 in Lynn and after that we moved on in acquiring another company that was working out of New York state. And now we are looking at expanding this company and we are basically looking for a new home for our business.”

Gloucester, Diotallevi said, represents a great opportunity for the company whose products -- including sauce, dips and pesto -- are available at Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

“We’re looking to establish our operation in a community that can host us and where we could be an active member of this community,” he said.

Council President Steve LeBlanc, echoing several other councilor comments, pointed out that BC Gourmet’s relocation here would help fill the void along the city’s waterfront created by Whole Foods departure almost two year ago.

“This will be good for their business and good for our waterfront,” LeBlanc said in a later interview. “They could have gone anywhere from Lynn, anywhere along Route 128. So this is a positive step for the city.”

His colleagues didn’t need much convincing. Several councilors proudly referenced their Italian heritage is supporting the measure.

“We will not be homesick in Gloucester,” Diotallevi said.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT

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