Austin City Council approved an $8.6 million incentive and economic development agreement with Apple Inc. on March 22 that paves the way for more state incentives and moves the company one step further to building a new campus in Northwest Austin.
“This is a decision I have struggled with a bit because any time we're looking at using public money, and as much public money, I think we need to ask ourselves some really hard questions,” Councilwoman Kathie Tovo said. “It's about the value we're getting from it … This is a relatively small economic incentives package, and it goes far in other places. I think this is a very good company, and it does bring many good-paying jobs to Austin.”
The Cupertino, Calif.–based tech company is proposing to build a 1 million-square-foot facility near Parmer Lane and Delcour Drive to house its Americas Operations Center and has agreed to hire 3,635 new employees, about 90 percent of whom would be from Austin. Jobs would be in accounting, customer support and human resources, and the average salary would be $54,000.
If Apple completes the new site in two phases by Dec. 31, 2021, and adds the new jobs while maintaining the 3,100 employees at the company's 12545 Riata Vista Circle site, it will be eligible to receive an $8.6 million in tax rebates over 14 years. Over that same time, the city anticipates netting $14.6 million in revenue from the expansion.
The state is also offering a $21 million investment from its Texas Enterprise Fund over 10 years if Apple hires the positions it says it will.
At a public hearing that preceded the March 22 vote, about two dozen construction workers and representatives from the Austin-based Workers Defense Project urged Apple to establish a minimum wage and safety standards to ensure that the construction workers who would build the new facility were protected and could live above the poverty line in the city.
Council amended the economic development agreement to include a requirement that Apple comply with all state and federal laws on construction, safety and minimum wage and that Apple work with the Workers Defense Project in an effort to meet the obligation.