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Mass. Economic Assistance Coordinating Council rejects SYSCO's tax break

(July 1, 2010)—A Massachusetts economic development board that came under fire this year for handing out millions of dollars in questionable tax breaks has become more selective about the projects it supports.

“We are treating the state tax credits as a limited resource,’’ said Gregory Bialecki, the state’s secretary for housing and economic development. “We are making awards to what we think are the very best opportunities for job creation.’’

The council rejected Boston Scientific’s request for $2.5 million to expand a distribution center in Quincy on the grounds the Natick-based maker of medical devices failed to meet job goals for a previous expansion project the state subsidized.

The board also turned down Allegrone Construction, a housing contractor that asked for $360,000 to expand its facilities in Lenox, determining it was primarily a local company that would have remained in Massachusetts.

And it rejected Sysco Boston LLC’s request for $900,000 in state tax credits for a new $110 million facility in Lakeville, because the food-distribution company recently cut hundreds of jobs, plans to abandon its current location in Norton as part of the expansion, and probably would stay in Massachusetts anyway.

A consultant for Sysco Boston expressed surprised at the council’s rejection, telling its members the company was also considering a site in Rhode Island and was seeking a state tax break worth only about 1 percent of its investment.

A Boston Scientific executive declined to comment, while Allegrone could not be reached.

The council did approve local property tax breaks for the companies because, Bialecki said, it did not want to block cities and towns from supporting projects they deem important.

The council awarded $8.9 million in state incentives to eight other companies that promised to retain or add jobs.

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