Firm would get discount if it relocates

HUDSON – A Massachusetts high-tech firm would get a nearly $200,000 discount on its sewer hookup fee if it brings its 125 jobs to Hudson’s Sagamore Park.

Entegris, which has almost 3,000 employees at 33 locations worldwide and made close to $150 million in the first quarter of 2008, is looking to consolidate some of its leased facilities in Massachusetts to a permanent location in Massachusetts or southern New Hampshire, said Michael Bolko, the company’s corporate environmental manager.

Hudson, particularly Sagamore Park – an industrial park off Lowell Road, is on the company’s shortlist, Bolko said.

Michael Bergeron, a business development manager for the state Department of Resources and Economic Development, is working to try to lure Entegris and other Massachusetts companies to New Hampshire.

Bergeron said he mentions Hudson’s park about once a month to the financial, high-tech, medical device and biotech companies that he talks to.

To sweeten the deal to get the company to come to town, selectmen voted 3-2 to allow Entegris, a publicly traded company that makes high-tech containers for storing and transporting very delicate silicon wafers and microchip components, to hook onto the town’s sewer system for about $322,000. That’s about 38 percent lower than the $517,000 fee the company would face based on the normal rate.

Selectman Roger Coutu said he was eager to work with Entegris but struggled to find a fair way to consider the company’s request in the absence of a town policy for such situations.

“We will do whatever is necessary, without giving the town away, to get them into our community,” he said.

The infusion of 125 highly skilled jobs that would pay an average of about $50,000 a year would be an obvious benefit to the local economy, said Town Administrator Steve Malizia.

“From an economic perspective, that’s always a good thing. Economic activity begets economic activity,” he said. “You want to be able to support commercial and industrial to offset the expenses in other areas, and it seems to be a fairly clean industry so that’s positive. Hopefully this will be a success story.”

Coutu agreed and said he has the impression that Hudson is the company’s first choice. He said he’s committed to reversing the impression that Hudson is unfriendly to business.

“I think it’s a win-win situation for us,” he said. “The town of Hudson has historically had a reputation of not being too inviting to businesses. The tone of this board is going to be to change that perception.”

The location could also be a boon to Sagamore Park, which has low occupancy rates compared the park’s heyday in the 1970s and ’80s.

“From my perspective, the industrial park is becoming a mini-ghost town,” Coutu said.

The owners of several owners of the park’s vacant buildings have asked for and received tax abatements as their property values decline, he said.

The park is an attractive location for industry since it’s close to the Massachusetts border and has easy access to Route 3, but it is now littered with empty buildings and “for lease” signs. Consolidation, jobs going overseas and the local decline in manufacturing have all been cited as reasons for the drop in the park’s occupancy.

Bolko said the company has looked at a few properties in the park, including 28 Executive Drive, a few doors down from The Telegraph’s headquarters. He told the board in July the company hopes to have purchased a site by the end of September.

The town charges new sewer users a one-time hookup fee based on their maximum sewer discharge flow. Entegris asked for a max flow of 100,000 gallons a day, making it one of the town’s largest sewer users. The rate is $5.17 a gallon, which would have cost the company $517,000 to hook on.

The new allocation formula agreed to by the board this week reduces that fee to $323,000, a discount of 38 percent.

The 100,000 gallons a day represents 5 percent of Hudson’s 2 million gallon a day capacity at Nashua’s waste water treatment facility.