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Deal with Titeflex saves 101 jobs

Date: 3/9/2010

March 10, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- In this case, the score was Springfield, one, South Carolina, zero.

On Thursday, Mayor Domenic Sarno announced before a backdrop of machines that braid Teflon hose that Titeflex will remain in the city of Springfield, thanks to an agreement that lowers the company's taxes over the next 12 years.

The result is 101 jobs were saved, about a third of which are filled by city residents, as well as a commitment from Titeflex to a partnership with the Springfield School Department for a mentoring/internship program.

Under the agreement, which must be approved by the State Economic Assistance Coordinating Council (SEACC), Titeflex will receive reduced property tax bills for the next 12 years. In 2011, the amount exempted will be 100 percent with the exemptions decreasing to 1 percent by 2022.

The agreement will be considered at the SEACC's meeting on March 31 in Boston. Sarno did not anticipate there would be any opposition as state officials have also been active in the negotiations.

Speaking to the Titeflex employees gathered for the announcement, Sarno said the agreement "keeps you in the city of Springfield and keeps you in your homes."

The announcement was met with enthusiastic applause.

The company describes itself as the world's leader in Teflon hose technology, a key component in aerospace, automotive and industrial applications. Located at the site where Rolls Royce had its only automotive manufacturing facility outside of Great Britain, the company has been in the city since 1956.

Sarno said it is much easier for the city to retain existing companies than to try to attract new ones.

"It sends a message for companies coming to the city of Springfield, but more importantly to the companies wanting to stay," the mayor added.

Peter Letendre, the company's director of operations and Martin Hough, the company's financial controller, confirmed the state of South Carolina had been working for two years to convince the company to relocate.

"It was a very real possibility," Letendre said.

Hough said the range of tax incentives offered by officials in South Carolina would have been enough to pay for the relocation.

With their future secure in Springfield, Hough said the company is planning to make over $3 million in renovations and investments at the facility on Hendee Street.

Both Letendre and Hough said one concern about relocating was the availability of the skilled workforce in South Carolina. The average employee at Titeflex has worked for the company for 25 years.

Letendre said the company is presently using only about a third of the space in the building, which had previously been the home of two other businesses that have left Springfield. He said part of the building will be demolished and energy saving measures will be made to the remainder.

Sarno thanked City Councilor Timothy Rooke and Michael Fenton for their roles in the creation of the agreement.

"We're looking to make it happen in the city of Springfield," Sarno said.