When officials at Greencore USA were looking to build a new facility to replace two aging facilities in Massachusetts, the Quonset Business Park grabbed their attention for a few reasons. Chief among them were two unique programs recently created to attract new business to the area: the site-readiness program, and an incentivized lease program.
“The site readiness program was a big draw for us because we’ve got a big commercial pressure on us to get things done quickly,” said Liam McClennon, CEO of Greencore USA.
The company, a subsidiary of Dublin, Ireland-based Greencore Group, manufactures and distributes 430 million sandwiches, 150 million ready meals, 200 million bottles of cooking sauces and pickles, 42 million quiches, three million Christmas cakes and 530 million Yorkshire puddings, according to the company’s website.
Their products can be found at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Walgreens, 7-Eleven, Cumberland Farms, Walmart, Trader Joe’s and a number of different gas station convenience stores.
On Tuesday, the Board of Directors of the Quonset Development Corp. – which oversees development in the 3,207-acre business park – approved a 50-year lease with Greencore to build a 107,000-square-foot convenience food manufacturing facility on 15 acres. The site is located on the corner of Commerce Park Road and Ocean State Drive, just north of Ocean State Job Lot’s corporate offices.
Groundbreaking on the site is expected to take place May 1 because of the site-readiness program, which streamlines the permitting process for developers. The program was adopted by the QDC board last August.
The site-readiness program essentially completed the preliminary study and review work on 35 sites in the business park, and acquires the necessary permits from the state Department of Environmental Management, the Coastal Resources Management Council, local building inspectors and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
“The Quonset site-readiness and incentive programs were important factors in securing Greencore as a new tenant at the Quonset Business Park,” said Marcel A. Valois, executive director of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and chairman of the QDC’s Board of Directors. “We compete with neighboring states for business growth and having pre-permitted, shovel-ready land available makes us more competitive.”
McClennon said 393 employees will work at the facility, with about 310 – or about 65 percent – of them being new hires. The rest of the employees will be from Greencore’s Brockton, Mass., facility that will be closing by the end of next year. The company also has a facility in Newburyport, Mass., that will be closing.
The new facility will also have the ability to expand by another 40,000 square feet in the future – creating space for another 234 employees.
McClennon said salaries for employees range from $10 to $11 an hour for new hires on the productin floor to six figure salaries for supervisors.
“We have wide mix of demand for skills and people,” he said. “It’s a nice blend of opportunity for a variety of different people, from entry level jobs all the way to highly skilled, highly technical jobs.”
Greencore also will benefit from discounts on the lease of the property based on the length of the lease, the number of employees and wages paid.
In August, the board approved two types of lease discounts for future tenants in an effort to attract new businesses to the Quonset Business Park and provide incentives for them to sign long-term leases.
Under the incentive program, if a tenant signs a 50-year lease, they would receive a 25 percent discount; the discount declines with the length of a lease, down to a 2 percent discount for a 5-year lease.
The board also approved a lease discount based on the overall wages paid to employees as reported to the state’s Division of Taxation. The incentive is not only based on the overall number of employees, but also factors in the quality and quantity of the jobs.
“Therefore, a company with fewer but higher-paying jobs can benefit from an incentive that is typically based on number of jobs without regard to the salary or wage rate,” QDC Managing Director Steven J. King said at the board’s August 2013 meeting. “Additionally, a payroll-based incentive simply relies on quarterly reports that employers already file with the Division of Taxation, which makes the program easy to administer and places no additional burdens on tenants.”
The payroll-based incentive is .5 percent of the annual wages that a company pays its employees.
Under the terms agreed to Tuesday – before factoring in lease discounts – Greencore will pay $117,700 the first year, $122,956 the second year and $128,211 the third year, with increases of about $5,000 each year until year 10 – at which time the company will owe a lease payment of $165,000. For years 11 through 50, the lease payment will increase 12.5 percent every five years.
Those numbers could increase sooner if the company expands within the first 10 years.
As Greencore seeks to expand its reach into the New York market, the location of the Quonset Business Park was seen as a major selling point.
Said McClennon, “In searching for the right location, we wanted to find a place where we could build quickly, have easy access to the major cities on the East Coast, and be in a place where we could grow in the future. Quonset met all those criteria perfectly – it is a world-class facility.”
Gov. Chafee and Congressman James Langevin were in attendance for Tuesday’s meeting and shared their enthusiasm in welcoming Greencore to the Ocean State.
“This is a good day for Rhode Island, and another indication of how investing in our state assets can help create more jobs and propel our economy in the right direction,” Chafee said in a statement. “I commend Greencore for bringing a growing company here and we look forward to showing the world how our resources and workforce can help a company achieve great success.”