Westborough voters approve tax agreement for Olympus Corporation

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Company projects relocating up to 400 employees and adding 25 new jobs  

By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor

Westborough – Nearly 100 voters approved a measure at a Jan. 10 Special Town Meeting (STM) to authorize the Board of Selectmen to create an Economic Opportunity Area at 800 West Park Drive and to offer and execute a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Plan/Agreement with Olympus Corporation of the Americas.

According to town officials, Olympus, a leading optics company, is planning to move to Westborough to operate corporate offices, and research and development space. It expects to relocate up to 400 employees to Westborough and add approximately 25 full time positions. The company will be building a new facility on a lot that is currently undeveloped on Park Drive.

The initial phase is to construct 150,000 square feet of building space with a total investment of over $45 million.

The TIF, which would begin July 1, 2020 (Fiscal Year 2021) would be for 15 years. It only applies to the incremental increase in value of the applicable property, so there is no tax revenue loss; only a temporary reduction in how much of a tax increase would be applied to the increase in value of the property.

Before the measure was voted on, voters heard from representatives from the Board of Selectmen, Advisory Finance Committee and the Economic Development Committee, as well as several citizens, all whom urged that the vote be passed.

“We are in a very competitive environment,” Leigh Emery, the chair of the board of selectmen, said. “There are plenty of other places [Olympus] can go to.”

Joshua Lee Smith, who noted he is a land-use attorney, said, “Many citizens are looking to increase their tax base.”

“Westborough is bookended by Worcester and Framingham, who are both undergoing a renaissance of attracting businesses,” he added. “We need to be mindful of other communities who would love to have an Olympus.”

Lester Henley offered his perspective as a former member of both the EDC and Planning Board.

Sometimes the goals of both of those boards can be at odds, he said. But that was not the case in the matter of the Olympus TIF, he said, adding that he supported the article.

The measure passed easily with only several people voting against it.

A measure to vote on allowing potential expansion to include the property at 1200 West Park Drive could not be voted on this time, per state officials, Acting Town Manager Kristi Williams said.