Led by Vice President of Manufacturing Chris Connors, Vistaprint went before Lexington’s Board of Selectmen on Monday, Oct. 1, to talk about their plans to expand in town in hopes of getting tax incentives towards construction of their proposed $57 million dollar expansion.
VistaPrint's North American corporate headquarters is located in the Ledgemont #2 building up on 95 Hayden Avenue. With new owners Hobbs Brook Management, a subsidiary of FM Global, building a third Ledgemont Building, Vistaprint is hoping to lease at least 100,000, if not all 150,000 square-feet of soon-to-be-available space. This would make way in the next five years for another 300 employees to add to their current roster of 880. In connection with this, Vistaprint also pointed out that if they stay in Lexington, they would want to hire from within the community.
What Vistaprint is asking the from the town is a property tax release in order to offset some of the costs of the project. Vistaprint is looking for the upcoming special Town Meeting to approve a warrant article allowing public financing of a TIF (tax increment financing) to help the company to go through with the deal.
Connors described the tax incentive as a “very real price of our consideration” for expanding in Lexington.
Vistaprint and Lexington
Vistaprint used a power point presentation to explain what they’ve done for Lexington throughout the decade they have been situated here. Vistaprint pointed out such communal involvements as a yearly small business symposium with the Chamber of Commerce, among other local and global outreach initiatives, like Toys for Tots and Cradles to Crayons.
The other major factor Vistaprint saw as a boon for Lexington allowing them the tax incentive was the economic impact they offer the town. Connors addressed this issue when he stated Vistaprint puts “about a million dollars worth of activity into the community” through use of local businesses such as eateries and hosting clients in local hotels.
Lynn Tokarczyk, president of Business Development Strategies, Inc., a private development firm aiding Vistaprint in their expansion efforts, piggy-backed on Connors sentiments when she said that Vistaprint is “one of Lexington's largest employers” and it will create new tax revenues for the town through their clients and employees.
Town Manager Carl Valente explained that the selectmen received Vistaprint's official proposal last Friday. Now is the time for the review period, as the Town Manager, the selectmen and any other necessary parties will scrutinize the as-of-now, unmentioned details of Vistaprint's proposal.
After the review period, Valente will contact Connors with any concerns or questions from the town. After Connors answers these questions, Valente will take these thoughts back to the selectmen with his and any other necessary parties' recommendations.
For now, the selectmen are moving to set up a meeting for any Town Meeting members to hear the full proposal before it comes to vote at November's special Town Meeting.
As of this writing, there are no other options on the table towards whom (expect Vistaprint) could fill in the expanding Ledgemont Building that was approved three years ago.
Selectmen and Others Speak Out
Several manners of support came from the selectmen and concerned citizens at this stage in the proposal.
Selectman Peter Kelley expressed tentative support to Connors when he said, “I think you will find a lot of appreciation for what you bring, but a lot of people will want to crunch the numbers.”
Mary Jo Bohart, executive director for the Chamber of Commerce, added her support to the proposal. She recalled the past two years of small business seminars and also further praised Vistaprint for the way they help increase business in Town as well as creating jobs for residents.
Chris Hartzell, speaking as a worker in Lexington's hotel business at both Aloft and Element Hotels said,“Vistaprint has been a true partner” in helping with both real estate findings for those they re-locate to town to work for them and hosting their clients at the nearby Lexington-based hotels he works for.