Economic Development

Are tax subsidies for luxury development legal?

In a lawsuit filed last April plaintiffs sought a permanent injunction to prevent the City of Austin from diverting $354 million in future property...

Convention Center plans to retain staff during four years of inactivity

City staff employed by the Convention Center Department could remain on the payroll for four to five years despite closure of the Convention Center itself, according to departmental plans.

Lame duck council set to vote on 20-year sweetheart tax deal for developer

With just weeks to go in his term, Mayor Steve Adler is seeking to finalize a sweetheart tax deal for a developer that donated...

Council revives plan to use ‘blight’ law to subsidize luxury high rises

Subsidy plan previously put on ice gets another look, now valued at $330 million The Austin City Council has revived discussions to grant special tax...

Luxury subsidy deal stalls at council

Council backtracks on developer-friendly tax plan A majority of the Austin City Council at a work session Tuesday raised questions or concerns about a proposal...

Luxury real estate to get special tax status under ‘blight’ statute

Council moves to create $277 million infrastructure fund and grant special tax treatment to lakefront properties The Austin City Council took steps Monday to create...

Panel: Forget Amazon, Invest Locally

 Panel: Forget Amazon, Invest Locally

North Carolina Business Council hosts panel that
advocates investing in growing local business

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2018
Posted Sunday March 18, 2018 3:41pm

Amazon founder Jeff BezosPut their sentiments into song lyrics and the trio of panelists who discussed the impact of Amazon’s HQ2 would be singing in perfect harmony: “We don’t want it, you can have it, it’s not good for the Tar Heel State.”

Their focus was on what would befall the region should finalist Raleigh, North Carolina, be the pick of the 20-city litter to land the deal.

The nearly two-hour discussion March 14 took place at Elon University, a private institution with a student body of 6,000, both undergraduate and graduate, who study in a half-dozen fields including business, health sciences and law.

Since Austin is also among the 20 finalists trying to reel in what Amazon claims to be a $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs averaging $100,000 in annual pay, The Austin Bulldog tuned in to cover the webcast.

Amazon Bid Made Without Council Okay

 Amazon Bid Made Without Council Okay

Claim city’s contract with Chamber permits
bid on City’s behalf is questionable

Investigative Report by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2018
Posted Tuesday February 27, 2018 7:27pm

Amazon founder Jeff BezosAll that’s known publicly is that Austin’s proposal was good enough to keep it in the running to be home to a second headquarters of the company founded by Jeff Bezos, now reportedly the Richest Man in the World.

Its hardly news that Austin is one of the finalists among 20 U.S. and Canadian cities whose proposals have earned a shot at attracting what Amazon calls its HQ2—and with it up to 50,000 high-paying jobs and $5 billion in construction expenditures.

The Request for Proposals the company issued last September nevertheless indicates the Richest Man in the World is looking for a long list of incentives before deciding where to invest that fortune.

Now it has come to light that the proposal designed to harpoon this Moby Dick of an economic development opportunity was put together—apparently with the City’s tacit approval—by the Greater Austin Economic Development Corporation. That’s an entity within the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce that works on the Opportunity Austin program. The City of Austin has been the major funder of Opportunity Austin since 2005.

The Austin Bulldog’s investigation indicates that while the mayor and some City Council members were aware the Chamber was heading up this effort, the City Council never discussed authorizing that action, not in a public meeting and not in executive session.

Did the City delegate authority for Amazon bid?