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The City Council was supportive of a tax incentive for Stanley Black & Decker, doing business as Tog Manufacturing, voting unanimously to approve the agreement.

North Adams Council Approves Tax Incentive for Tog Manufacturing

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday approved a tax increment financing agreement with Tog Manufacturing as it doubles in size and employment over the next five years.
"This is a good agreement, this is an agreement that is tied both to physical investment in the facility as well as to planned and proposed job creation," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "It's an agreement I have great confidence in because it represents a continuity and a local future for a company that has deep roots in the city of North Adams."
The agreement was signed with Stanley Black & Decker Inc., which became Tog's parent company after acquiring Nelson Fastener Systems of Ohio earlier this year for $440 million. Tog had become part of the Nelson Fastener family of companies in 2016. 
The company was approved last month for a 21,000 square-foot addition to the current 24,900 square-foot building at Hardman Industrial Park. It estimates the investment at $3.5 million in building improvements, $2.6 million in equipment, and 28 new jobs by 2022. It currently employs 29.
Bernard said this was significant because there had been the possibility of Tog moving out of the area under different ownership. 
"When Stanley came in and purchased the company they did so with the intent of investing in the facility here and in the local workforce," he said. 
The mayor also noted that Tog, a precision machining company with both government and private-sector clients, has had a close relationship over the years with McCann Technical School. The company has offered internships that have helped prepare an educated manufacturing workforce. 
The agreement will phase in the expected tax increase from improvements over the five years, beginning with an exemption of 80 percent of the increase in fiscal 2021 and then dropping by 20 percent a year until the full amount is being paid in fiscal 2025.
According to the agreement, the company is committed to invest up to $2.75 million in improvements, $1.85 million in capital equipment and create 20 full-time jobs by the end of fiscal 2024.
Should it fail to fulfill its investment and job creation goals, the city can request the TIF be decertified.
Tog currently pays more than $12,000 a year in property taxes and will continue to pay any personal property taxes. The mayor said it would be difficult to determine at this point how much the company would be saving because the new building isn't constructed to be assessed and the tax rate varies each year. 
The councilors were strongly supportive of the plan, passing the agreement unanimously. 
"If you look at the options that communities have to help with economic development growth, business, TIFs are one of the very opportunities we have to do that," said Councilor Benjamin Lamb. "I think that it's great because we're still getting the tax on the base valuation, which is key. It's not like they're suddenly not paying any taxes in the city of North Adams."
Councilor Eric Buddington, who has been critical of the way TIFs have been used in the past, approved of this one, saying, "this is one of the nicer ones I've seen. It's a very well-respected business. I like that it follows the standard formula where the taxes on increased property value are phased in evenly over five years."
It should, he said, be a standard for other eligible businesses in the city.
The councilors did, however, want annual updates on the progress of the company in meeting its contracted obligations, as well as reports on other current agreements.
"Reporting back to this council has not been consistent," Lamb said. 
The agreement must now be approved by the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council before it can go into effect on July 1, 2019.

Tags: manufacturing,   tax incentive,   

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Drury Graduate to Direct Horror Film in North Adams

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Drury High School graduate is hoping to bring his dream — or, more appropriately, his nightmare — to film life. 

The horror film "The Uncredited," written by Nick Burchard, will be filmed in North Adams this spring, pending fundraising and the COVID-19 pandemic. Burchard's Tiny Viking Productions is making the film in conjunction with Sancha Spiller and Kasey Rae of Skylah Productions of New York City.

"I grew up in the area, and I've always appreciated the historical places, in particular the Hoosac Tunnel, Mohawk Theater, and the old mills," Burchard said. "I think North Adams has a very unique setting, with the mountains surrounding the city and of course, all the steeples.

"The Uncredited" follows a young woman who appears in an independent film. While watching it, her friends notice something disturbing in the background of her scene. This leads to rumors and distrust in even the closest group of friends.
"My goal is to make great characters, and even though it's a spooky thriller the characters in it are just friends sitting down to watch a movie together," Burchard said. "They crack jokes, roast each other, and are all collectively trying to have a good time … but that juxtaposed with the realization that one of them might be hiding something is what creates the thriller edge to this. I think it's really fun."
Spiller added that the film does not rely on horror tropes such as jump scares. She said the screenplay is character-driven.
"It showcases our greatest fear of not knowing the people around us as well as we think," she said. "It makes us second guess who we trust and remember that just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have horrifying consequences."
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