The Herald News, Friday, November 21, 2014 – Page B2

With the last local hurdle cleared to pave the way for a Tax Increment Financing agreement for Internet retailer Amazon to build a one-million-square-foot, $200 million fulfillment center on the Fall River-Freetown line, the last major piece standing between the much-needed infusion of jobs is the state tax incentive package expected to be approved in mid-December.

Freetown voters at a special Town Meeting on Wednesday approved a similar TIF agreement to that approved by the Fall River City Council last week. While Freetown residents asked questions about the tax breaks, no one spoke in opposition of the agreement, likely seeing the significant boost to both the town’s tax base and our struggling region’s employment prospects and the related economic activity Amazon’s 1,000 full-time jobs and hundreds of part-time and temporary jobs would bring to both Fall River and Freetown businesses.

As Freetown Selectmen Chairwoman Lisa Pacheco said, “This is very important, not only for our town and the city of Fall River, but extremely for the SouthCoast as well.”

The 15-year tax deal starting with fiscal 2018 applies to both real and personal property taxes. Amazon will receive 100 percent exemptions from both types of taxes during the first four years. From 2022-24, it gets a 75 percent exemption and a 50 percent break for the next four years and 25 percent for the remainder of the term.

The Internet retailer already has a presence in the commonwealth, having constructed a smaller facility in Stoughton, where it is hiring. Now the state Economic Assistance Coordinating Council is expected to sign off on state tax incentives for the facility in the South Coast Life Science and Technology Park next month.

“By December 18, we should have this all signed, sealed and delivered,” Bristol County EDC Executive Vice President Kenneth Fiola Jr. told Town Meeting voters on Wednesday night. We hope Amazon delivers the good news of their acceptance soon after that.

If the state offers a similarly generous tax incentive and Amazon accepts the local and state tax deals, construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year, bringing the first infusion of construction jobs before the facility puts local residents back to work in decent-paying positions with one of the world’s strongest and growing companies that match the workforce’s skills set well.

We look forward to welcoming Amazon as a new corporate neighbor in 2015 and beyond. Securing Amazon’s arrival will send the message loud and clear that the SouthCoast is open for business.