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Williamson officials played key role in quiet courtship for Apples $1B Austin campus – Austin American-Statesman - http://moneyonlinetoptips.com | how to get money fast

December 14, 2018 12:35 am
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Williamson County officials have spent much of this year working to land a major corporate campus they hoped would bring thousands of good-paying jobs and a huge amount of investment.

But only recently did they find out the company’s name: Apple Inc.

“Very few people knew” that Apple was considering a big new project in the region, said Phil Wilson, chairman of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, after Apple announced plans this week to spend $1 billion on a new campus on Parmer Lane in North Austin that initially will employ up to 5,000 people and could expand to 15,000.

Williamson County commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a taxpayer-funded incentive package for Apple that could be worth tens of millions of dollars over its 15-year life.

The courtship of Apple has turned out to be perhaps the biggest secret in regional economic development circles in many years, even as Amazon Inc.’s nearly simultaneous high-profile sweepstakes to find new corporate sites captured national attention. Austin was named to Amazon’s list of 20 finalists but ultimately lost out to locations in New York and Virginia.

Wilson said he and a handful of others at the chamber became aware of Apple’s interest in January and, as is routine in such situations, the chamber developed a package of area locations that fit Apple’s criteria.

Unlike Amazon’s splashy search, however, Apple wanted to keep its deliberations mostly under wraps. Apple announced in January that it would open a new corporate campus somewhere in the United States, as well as expand some of its existing facilities, but it said little else about its intentions until this week.

“We knew we were in play for Apple” during the Amazon competition, Wilson said. But “there is always a lot going on and more than one deal. We always believed we were in a competitive situation with other areas around the country” for Apple as well as for Amazon.

Williamson County spokeswoman Connie Odom said county officials have known for the past nine to 10 months that a big corporation was considering a major investment in the county, but they “only very recently” found out that it was Apple.

The proposed incentives deal would abate 65 percent of Apple’s annual property taxes for 15 years. The agreement requires Apple to invest $400 million in the site over that time, as well as to have hired a cumulative total of 4,000 workers by the deal’s 12th anniversary.

Apple has said the figures in the proposed Williamson County incentive agreement are “floors,” and it plans a much larger investment at the site and many more hires.

The company also is in line to receive as much as $25 million in taxpayer-funded grants for the new Austin campus from the state’s deal-closing Texas Enterprise Fund.

 
 

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