Marlborough City Council approves tax break for proposed CA biotech company

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By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

Marlborough – As Marlborough seeks to grow its Life Sciences base that includes major companies Hologic, Sunovion and Boston Scientific, the City Council Nov, 16 voted 9-2 to approve a Tax Increment Financing exemption (TIF) to Revance Therapeutics, Inc. and BH GRP TCAM Owner LLC seeking to build/lease its first facility outside of California.

Headquartered in Newark, Calif. with 430 employees, Revance Therapeutics, Inc. develops products used for aesthetics (including cosmetic fillers and injectables) and other therapeutics.

Company representatives started talks with Mayor Arthur Vigeant and Meredith Harris, executive director of the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) at the end of August about plans to invest “approximately “$115 million in building improvements and capital investment” for a 79,000 square foot building and parking facilities at lots 110, 110, 250 and 350 Campus Drive.

The company plans to hire 76 full-time, on-site employees by 2025 from Marlborough and surrounding communities.  The number would increase as construction is completed, equipment is installed, government approvals are received and business ramps up

Councilors Christian Dumais and Samantha Perlman voted in opposition to the TIF agreement and expressed concern about the timing of the request.

“This is challenging, during a pandemic when we should be supporting small business that are struggling,” Perlman said.

During a Nov. 9 meeting of the Council’s Finance Committee, Dumais said he was really “struggling” with this vote due to the pandemic and economic downturn.

“Obviously now we had to lay off municipal employees, people are having difficulties paying their bills and their taxes,” he said.  “Numerous small business (owners) like myself are on the verge of shutting down.”

In a letter to Mayor Arthur Vigeant, Brian Blagg, Revance Therapeutics vice president of Engineering, Facilities, EH & S Supply Chain, stated they were looking to select a location where they could “hire and retain exceptional talent” and one that had “lower operating costs and a stable and business-friendly environment with an improved tax structure.”

Vigeant told the Committee the company was choosing between Marlborough and Northborough and that Northborough has a single tax rate which results in much lower commercial tax bills.

“Our commercial tax rate (is higher but) allows us to keep residential rates down,” he explained. “The question is, does the Council want a new building to come down there and have additional tax revenue coming in to offset what we charge our residents and I don’t want to mislead anyone, there is nothing coming out of the pockets of any resident of this city (because of this tax exemption).”

Several councilors discussed the long-term benefit of bringing in businesses with employees that will hopefully frequent Marlborough shops and restaurants, particularly at this difficult economic time.

“This is going to be a home run and I think we’re probably going to be the envy of other towns,” Councilor Don Landers said.

Councilor Mark Oram echoed that sentiment and added “the more biotech we can attract the better we’ll all be.”

The TIF agreement goes through the state and is managed by the MEDC.