News Articles


Business Development Strategies Inc.

Boston Business Journal - by Sean McFadden Journal staff
November 9, 2007


Lynn Tokarczyk, founder of BDS, works with clients during a recent site visit at Lonza Hopkinton Inc. in Hopkinton, which is planning to add laboratory space. Tokarczyk's firm helps businesses like Lonza realize their expansion plans by securing various tax incentives.

As a government incentives consultant, Lynn Tokarczyk has established a well-defined niche by helping companies uncover sources of state and local tax benefits that can ultimately help them grow their businesses.

It's an objective she can relate to: In the four years since she started Medway-based Business Development Strategies Inc., Tokarczyk also has been focused on her own company's growth.

"I realize that in order to grow the business, having the right team with the right skill set in place is a key to success," says Tokarczyk, 47.

Since its inception in 2003, BDS has helped 45 clients identify, negotiate and secure government incentives in 30 municipalities across the state. In the process, Tokarczyk estimates, those clients have saved more than $35 million in state and local taxes.

While she's only been in business with BDS for four years, Tokarczyk reckons she's been laying the groundwork since the late 1980s.

She honed her negotiation skills as owner and operator of Sincerely, Lynn Inc., an upscale women's apparel store in Wayland, from 1987 to 1994. Tokarczyk then learned about state and local programs through a subsequent position as regional director with the state Office of Business Development, where she served from 1995 to 2000.

Finally, the consulting piece of her background came together when she was recruited by Ernst & Young to serve in their New England area state and local tax incentives practice, eventually being promoted to senior manager.

She says the cumulative experience from these positions put her in a good position to help other businesses navigate through government bureaucracy.

"I knew what my skill set was, and I decided to move forward with that: always continuing to assist the business community to help their companies grow and expand, by finding out where the mystery programs and the hidden treasures are," she says.

Revenue for BDS has grown accordingly, from $1 million in 2006 to projections of between $1.3 million and $1.5 million this year.

At the same time, the sacrifices of her work have been considerable, Tokarczyk says. She recalls one night when she was scheduled to appear at four municipal meetings across the state. On another occasion, a client called her at 10 p.m. looking for a letter to be drafted to the state as soon as possible.

"It's always been 24/7," Tokarczyk says. "It's about running the business, business development, generating business. Then, it's about marketing. Then, it's about delivering on the projects. There are never enough hours in the day."

Learning to delegate work to her team, which has grown from two consultants in 2003 to 10 today, has been an essential part of Tokarczyk's growth strategy. This is key, given that the nature of the firm's work -- which ranges from rallying residents to attend town meetings, to preparing and filing the necessary applications and documentation to access incentive programs -- can be complex and time-consuming.

"If the projects were all cookie-cutter projects, there wouldn't be a need for a company to engage our services," she says.

Serving as equal parts diplomat and detective, Tokarczyk and her team help clients accelerate their real estate expansion plans by cutting through the bureaucratic red tape to secure government incentives -- including state investment tax credits, municipal property tax relief in the form of tax increment financing and local personal property tax exemptions.

"These are all mystery programs; companies have no idea that they exist," says Tokarczyk. "We feel it's all about opening doors and unlocking financial value, which is the key to success for our clients."

Joe Crowell, senior director of operations at Lonza Hopkinton Inc., a biotech company for which BDS helped secure tax incentives for site expansion, says, "We were not very skilled in local and state government issues. Having a consultant like Lynn was key. ... In terms of helping Lonza stay and grow in Hopkinton, she was instrumental in that."

Jim Lavoie, former president and CEO of Middlesex Savings Bank and a former member of Tokarczyk's board of advisers, observes, "Lynn is an individual who is extremely knowledgeable in the subject matter and hard-working in building her business."

Sean McFadden can be reached at smcfadden@bizjournals.com