Meditech to buy Riverfront Business Park site; employ 800

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Jack Foley|Herald News

 

By Michael Holtzman

Herald News Staff Reporter

Posted Oct 04, 2010 @ 04:33 PM

Last update Oct 04, 2010 @ 06:46 PM

 

FREETOWN —

Medical Information Technology Inc. announced jointly Monday with developers of the Riverfront Business Park its plans to buy 135 acres and build a 180,000-square-foot office building to employ more than 800 people.

Meditech, a health care software provider, is making its second expansion into the SouthCoast after opening a $45 million facility for 500 workers two years ago in Fall River.

Construction is expected to start in 2011, with occupancy in 2013 after town and state approvals are obtained, park owners Churchill & Banks and Meditech said in the joint statement.

The company and land owner did not release financial details of the sale and construction.

Selectmen Chairman Lawrence Ashley said he understood this would be an “$80 million to $100 million” investment and provide “800 to 1,000 new jobs.”

The majority of Meditech’s jobs service their medical software in the hospital industry, paying wages in the “high-$30,000 to mid-$40,000,” spokesman Paul Berthiaume said.

Their jobs are aimed at recent college graduates although the economy has expanded that job base, he said.

The announcement came three days after Meditech told The Herald News of its plans to expand again and add hundreds of jobs in the SouthCoast.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Freetown, for Fall River and for our entire region with the new jobs and the much needed tax revenue,” Ashley said. “The positive results of the hard work of many is certainly proof positive that working with Fall River on a regional level works, and works well. At the end of the day, we all benefit.”

Mayor Will Flanagan concurred. “Meditech’s announcement to expand in the Greater Fall River area is great news for Fall River, Freetown and southeastern Massachusetts. The expansion and creation of new jobs for citizens of Fall River and the Greater Fall River area will not only help reduce our region’s unemployment rate but will help attract the attention of other Massachusetts and non-Massachusetts companies looking to locate in the Greater Fall River area.”

Kenneth Fiola, executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development that helped broker the deal, said, “This is great news. I don’t think any other Massachusetts company has made an announcement recently of this statute.”

Ashley said his town became actively involved in negotiations the past 10 days after the FROED had worked with Meditech on expansion for about four months.

“It was great working with FROED. Ken Fiola has done an outstanding job,” Ashley said.

The acreage he said is at the southern end of the Riverfront park along South Main Street and south of the Stop & Shop Distribution Center, Fiola said.

He said the state’s $40 million construction of Route 24 highway ramps “facilitated this project.” The Exit 8A access is scheduled to open at the end of 2012, before Meditech completes this project.

Fiola also said the large tract is consistent with the Westwood-based company’s profile of preserving open space and amenities for its workers.

The 120,000-square-foot glass and terra cotta building on 17 acres in Fall River is adjacent to South Watuppa Pond, a bicycle path and the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center. Meditech pays about $400,000 to $500,000 in taxes to the city.

Fiola said this was not the land offered to the University of Massachusetts land to build a biomanufacturing research and training facility. That parcel is at another end of the 325-acre Riverfront Business Park, he said.

Meditech examined several parcels in the Brayton Avenue and Jefferson Street area that were not large enough, as well as the 300 acres where the city reached a deal, with conditions, for a resort casino with the Mashpee Indian tribe.

Fiola noted one downside of the proposed casino land during several months of talks with Meditech. “There was a serious reluctance locating a facility of this type close to the landfill,” he said.  

While Meditech was not yet releasing details of the project, Ashley said he understood the company will be minimizing the footprint and retain considerable open space with a five-story building with a view of the nearby Taunton River.

“They just do such a great job with their architecture,” he said. “The Board of Selectmen has worked hard with bylaw changes and infrastructure work to attract companies like this.

“It’s just a real plus for everyone,” Ashley said.

 “I want to thank Meditech for their belief and commitment to Fall River and our region in announcing their most recent expansion,” Flanagan said

E-mail Michael Holtzman at mholtzman@heraldnews.com.