Business
4:37 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

City Council Gets First Bite at Apple Incentives Agreement

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and should it expand in Austin, computing-giant Apple’s “Americas Operations Center” would take some time too.

At today’s meeting of the Austin City Council, company representatives stated it would take four years to build a 200,000 square foot facility in Northwest Austin if Apple decides to expand here.

That was one of the details the council learned today at a meeting on the proposed property tax rebate agreement the city is considering with Apple. We wrote in detail about the contract yesterday.

Discussing the construction of the massive new building, designed to centralize financial, human resources and other internal support functions, took a large portion of the meeting. While the average salary Apple’s offering new employees is above the county average, speaker Greg Casar with the Workers Defense Project questioned the wages construction workers building a center for the world’s wealthiest company would receive.

Casar also cited safety concerns in the construction industry, including the recent construction death on the Circuit of the Americas F1 racetrack. He called for “a serious discussion about what kind of standards they’re setting on such a large project the city’s endorsing.”

Council member Mike Martinez asked whether Apple had contemplated “a certain floor on the level of wages” for construction jobs. Economic Growth and Redevelopment Office director Kevin Johns said he had “not had that conversation” with the company yet, but said Apple had been very amendable to working with his office on other areas.

The rest of the council conversation largely dwelt on the 3,600 new permanent jobs Apple would create in Austin. Council member Kathie Tovo asked Apple representative Jason Lundgaard, “Do you feel like there is a good strong pool of qualified applicants here in Central Texas?” Lundgaard answered, “Yes, I think that’s one of the things that made Austin a city that we are going to look at when we are exploring our options as far as where to locate these jobs. That was definitely a selling point.”

The council is scheduled to vote next Thursday on a plan to waive Apple’s property taxes for 10 years as an incentive to expand here, in addition to a $21 million investment from Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund.