Special Town Meeting set for Feb. 11 to vote on TIF
Representatives from Lykan Bioscience appeared before the Board of Selectmen on Jan. 15 to provide an update regarding the company’s interest to locate in Hopkinton and to discuss the board’s support for a tax increment financing plan, better known as a TIF, which would provide the company with a tax break.
Based in Phoenix, Lykan Bioscience is an emerging manufacturer of cell and gene therapies, and according to CEO Tony Rotunno, the company plans to lead the way in manufacturing clinical products for immunotherapy treatments of cancer and other illnesses.
The company conducted a site search in Massachusetts, and a property at 97 South St. has been identified as a viable option. Rotunno told the board that the town’s access to both airports and talent make Hopkinton a great place to start.
The proposed project investment is estimated at $12 million, which includes $10 million in construction costs and another $2 million for personal property. The building at 97 South St. is vacant and has been for seven years.
Over a five-year period, Lykan would create 125 permanent full-time jobs that will require a mix of talent and skills, but Rotunno said that the majority of jobs will not require a college degree and employees will be trained. The average salary is estimated at $100,000.
“We want Lykan to be the place to work,” he said.
The company also plans to become an active member of the community and hopes to use high school students as interns.
But in order for a TIF to be finalized, approval by Town Meeting is required, followed by approval at the state level. For that reason, and to accommodate Lykan’s decision timeline of mid-February, selectmen unanimously voted at an earlier meeting on Jan. 8 to call for a Special Town Meeting to be held on Feb. 11. Town Manager Norman Khumalo acknowledged that the timeline is aggressive and said he had tasked Lykan with helping to get people to attend. All articles or petitions proposed to be included in the Special Town Meeting warrant must be received at the Board of Selectmen’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 23.
“They have offered to pay for some of the costs associated with Special Town Meeting and the associated town counsel services,” Khumalo said.
Under state law, TIFs can grant tax exemptions up to 100 percent and for a period of 5-20 years. The tax exemption is based on the increased assessed value due to property improvements made, and the town collects new net tax revenue.
The details for the proposed TIF for Lykan have not been finalized, but Khumalo said they will be known prior to the Special Town Meeting on Feb. 11.
At the Jan. 15 meeting, Lykan appeared to have the full support of the board, with Chair Claire Wright thanking the company for taking the time to come before the board.
Brian Herr had a few questions, but said he thought having Lykan locate in Hopkinton was an excellent opportunity for the town and that the benefits outweighed the perceived risks.
In addition to revitalizing an underutilized property, Lykan’s presentation to the board also cited attracting a life science manufacturer to Hopkinton, increasing real estate tax revenue, creating a positive impact on local businesses and community, and attracting a great corporate neighbor.