Austin, TX City Council is still debating a proposed expansion by Apple of one of its facilities to the area, according to The Statesman.
Apple (News - Alert) is apparently considering other locations for its American Operations Center, including Phoenix. The site in Austin will cost $304 million and cover 38 acres. The expansion is expected to bring 3,600 jobs to the area.
“This is not a done deal," said Dave Porter, senior vice president for economic development at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “They have told us they are looking at multiple locations. They mentioned Phoenix as one of those locations. We have been told there are multiple state governors that have contacted Apple wanting them to grow in their state.”
City and state officials are offering incentives for Apple to stay there, and that’s the heart of the issue. The Austin City Council is holding hearings to determine whether they should pay $8.6 million over 10 years to the company. Texas Governor Rick Perry has already pledged $21 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund.
Some officials have criticized the offerings. Apple has really only considered Austin in the first place and is trying to get as much money from the city and state governments as it can, according to Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire, whose words were largely inspired by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in The Arizona Republic.
“No entity should get tax dollars based on a bluff, and doing so should not be without consequences,” Aleshire said. “We shouldn't just give taxpayers' money to get someone to do something that they were going to do anyway.”
“I know the negotiations with the city's team and Apple were very tough,” Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell dissented. “They were as tough as any negotiations we have ever had. What we have arrived at right now is very fragile.”
For Leffingwell, it’s important to offer these incentives, because not doing so would mean disaster for the city’s economy. “Every city in the country would love to have them come to their city," he said. “I am sure they would have lots and lots of offers. And it is not worth the risk to have them back away from the table and lose them and lose those 3,600 jobs.”
Austin businessman Gary Farmer called on businesspeople to support the deal, saying it was “stronger than a japapeño milkshake” and crucial to the city’s future.
Apple stayed mum, as is the secretive company’s custom.
Edited by Braden Becker