economic incentives

Larry D. Moore http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nv8200p

National Instruments is cancelling a project that would have created 1,000 jobs in Austin over a decade.

The $80 million expansion project of NI's headquarters on North Mopac Boulevard received millions in economic incentives from the city, county and state. All those agreements have also been canceled.

"We want to continue to leverage our investments and drive for growth," National Instruments spokesperson Stacy Schmidt says. "But in the current economy and the challenges in the test and measurement industry, we're choosing not to move forward at this time."

websense.com

Update: Dropbox and Websense will receive economic incentives to expand in Austin.

The Austin City Council voted 5-2 today to offer the two tech companies approximately $700,000 in incentives. The money comes on top of $6 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The Austin City Council had a long day at the dais yesterday, with a meeting that sputtered along for the better part of 15 hours.

"Stealth dorms," fee waivers, economic incentives, an officer-involved shooting, the MoPac sound wall and  even a proclamation for KUT's own Cactus Cafe. 

With that in mind, here's a rundown of the council action, and inaction, from yesterday.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Last night the Austin City Council approved a deal that offers nearly $680,000 dollars in incentives for athenahealth to expand in Austin. The grant will be offered in addition to a $5 million subsidy from Gov. Rick Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund.

But not everyone is happy with the deal. Some council members argue that the city’s booming economy doesn’t need to offer subsidies to bring business to Austin. (The deal passed on a 5-2 vote, with city council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo voting no.)

Austin Monitor publisher Michael Kanin says that this debate is heating up as council members become increasingly divided on the issue of business incentives.

Gov. Rick Perry's outsized Texas swagger is coming to the heart of blue state America.

flickr.com/atmtx

Update: The legislative session adjourns Monday – and Austin City Council members can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

All of the bills below disappeared into the legislative black hole – that is, they either never made it out of committee, or were never cleared for a vote.

Update (March 26): Here’s some additional bills that meet the Austin City Council’s definition of “Austin bashing” – legislation that would defang local policies.

  • HB 1858, Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin)

The bill would ban cities from restricting the removal of trees if a developer or land owner deems the tree to be a fire hazard. Opponents worry the bill provides a work-around the city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance, and point to an additional piece of Workman legislation, HB 3087, as creating additional development loopholes for removing trees.

flickr.com/bsterling

Texas’ official motto is “friendship.” And the state’s long drawn on its welcoming ways to attract tourism and convention crowds from all over.

One example of Texas hospitality is its event trust funds: the Major Events Trust Fund and the Events Trust Fund. (And that’s not counting the Motor Sports Events Trust Fund and the Special Events Trust Fund.)

KUT News

Three bills related to Gov. Rick Perry are getting a vetting today.

The Texas Senate is set to hear two bills scrutinizing the use of money from the Texas Enterprise Fund. The Texas Enterprise Fund is Perry’s economic development program that gives taxpayer money to private business. Some Austin recipients include Apple and Visa.

KUT News

Public subsidies could attract college football playoffs to Texas.

A public hearing will be held Thursday on a bill that would modify the language of the major event trust fund to include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football post-season playoff or championship game.

Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office, City of Austin

Austin got a look at the return on its investments Thursday. 

The city currently has 11 active economic incentive agreements in place – deals with companies like Visa and Apple stipulating that as long as a company meets negotiated hiring and spending goals, they’ll receive annual benefits from the city, often in the form of tax breaks.  Total incentives, if honored over the course of their entirety, approach $73 million.

Texas has been courting businesses for some time now, attracting job creators and corporations to the state in droves.

State and city officials have lured corporations in with sales tax incentives. That's prompted accusations of corporate welfare and ill-gotten subsidies, but the state’s dance card is full when it comes to reeling in businesses. In fact, the state’s attracted more businesses than most.

flickr.com/michaelpaul

The promoters behind Austin’s Formula 1 racetrack may tap a state trust fund for more than F1. The Austin City Council authorized the team at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) to act on the city’s behalf in negotiating payments from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund.

The payments would be for four upcoming races, with the first scheduled for this spring. COTA's promotions group just received more than $29 million from the trust fund to help pay for costs associated with putting on November’s F1 event.

Todd Wiseman & Mikhail Popov, Texas Tribune

The Texas approach to doling out financial incentives to businesses faced fire on multiple fronts Tuesday, adding momentum to calls for broad reform of the state’s economic development programs.

In the Capitol, the Senate Economic Development Committee discussed adding more transparency and accountability to the state’s patchwork of incentive programs and heard support from attendees for such reforms.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The billions of dollars in incentives that Texas hands out to businesses each year are set to draw fresh scrutiny this week on the heels of a New York Times series that raised new questions about the practice while also ruffling some feathers.

On December 3, the Times devoted Part 2 of its three-part “United States of Subsidies” series to Texas. The article alleged that the state gives out $19.1 billion a year in business incentives, far more than any other state. (Disclosure: The Texas Tribune has a content partnership with The New York Times.)

flickr.com/MoneyBlogNewz

The Austin City Council unanimously approved a deal that offers the Visa credit card company about $1.5 million to bring almost 800 jobs to the area.

The city’s received some criticism for offering big companies these incentives. A council committee has been talking about adding a provision that would require companies seeking incentives to meet a minimum wage requirement of $11 an hour. While Visa doesn’t have to meet those requirements, yesterday they offered to anyway.

flickr.com/photos/declanjewell

Credit card company Visa says it will build a new IT center in Austin, bringing almost 800 jobs to the area within five years.

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced the project this afternoon.

Perry is using $7.9 million dollars from the Texas Enterprise Fund to entice Visa to Austin.

The city will kick in about $1.5 million over 10 years, according to a memo released by the city's Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office.

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Travis County Commissioners voted four to one this morning in favor of providing economic incentives to HID Global. The company makes ID cards and key-card readers.

HID Global is looking at building a manufacturing and distribution center in Northeast Austin. It would create more than 270 jobs over 10 years. In return, the county would give the company at least a 40 percent discount on county taxes over that time.

County Commissioner Ron Davis represents the area including Northeast Austin.

“I just think it’s overall a big deal all across the community and I think it’s a win, win, win, win, win, win-type situation for all of us," said Davis. 

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Travis County Commissioners will vote today on a property tax increase. The proposed rate would increase from 48.55 cents to 50.01 cents per $100 of taxable value.

The county says the new tax rate will increase total tax revenues from properties on the tax roll in the preceding year by nearly three percent.

Commissioners will also hear public comment on offering economic incentives to HID Global, which is considering building a manufacturing and distribution center in Northeast Austin.

The State of Texas is already offering HID Global $1.9 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. And the City of Austin is considering offering the company close to a million dollars in rebates on taxes for real estate and equipment purchases. The city plans to hold a public hearing on the issue Sept. 27.

Photo by KUT News

Polls Open for 2012 Texas Primaries

After being pushed back repeatedly, the Texas primary elections are here.

Voters in the Republican and Democratic primaries will nominate candidates for offices ranging from the President and U.S. Senate to county positions like District Attorney and Tax Assessor-Collector.  You can view the parties’ sample ballots online.

Polls opened at 7 a.m., and although early voting numbers have been low, Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade is hoping for a higher election day turnout.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

The break’s over: City Council reconvenes this Thursday with a 141 item-long agenda. (Oh, and a four-item addendum.)

As the recent city elections and plans for an urban rail system have preoccupied council members’ time, we’ve prepared a crib sheet for this Thursday’s long slog. (You’re welcome!)

Green Waters Run Deep: Certain  to generate ample discussion at the meeting is Item 12, the sale of the former Green Water Treatment Plant site downtown, along Cesar Chavez Street, to developer Trammel Crow. 

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