Travis County commissioners listened to public comments but took no action Tuesday on a possible incentive package for California-based electric vehicle maker Tesla to build a $1 billion factory in Austin.
The package would give about $14.7 million in property tax rebates over 10 years. The court discussed the item in executive session but didn’t talk about the issue publicly. It will likely return for a vote consideration next week.
Austinites who made public comments at Tuesday’s meeting shared both concern and enthusiasm for the project. Some residents urged the court to be cautious before voting and ensure that the estimated 5,000 jobs associated with the factory would provide a living wage and safe working conditions. Others pointed to the prospect of the factory fueling local economic recovery.
“This could be a game-changer,” said Laura Huffman, president and CEO of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “These are the kinds of jobs we ask for, but are hard to get. It offers a lot of opportunity when the region certainly needs it.”
But Juan Belman, a University of Texas graduate, said that other incentives lure many companies to Travis County, including attracting and recruiting talent from UT and Texas A&M. Some companies, he said, are not solely based here because of tax incentives. He questioned why millions in tax incentives had to be offered “while people are without food on their table.”
If Tesla chooses the Austin area for the plant, which the corporation calls a “gigafactory,” it would likely be built northeast of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on 2,100 acres at Texas 130 and Harold Green Road.
The plant would manufacture Tesla’s future Cybertruck, an electric pickup, and its Model Y SUV. Tesla also is considering Tulsa, Okla., as a possible location, as well as other places in Texas. But Tesla officials said the Travis County site “has risen to the top of our search,” although no land has been purchased in any location under consideration.
American-Statesman reporter Shonda Novak contributed to this report.
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