Updated 09/12/2012 07:59 PM
Worker advocacy groups flood city incentives meeting
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The City of Austin is considering offering financial incentives for a California tech company to set up shop in the Capital City.
HID Global, a technology security company, is in talks with Austin City Council to build a manufacturing and distribution center in Northeast Austin. Council held a special-called meeting Wednesday to hear an economic development proposal explaining how the city would benefit from the deal.
The advocacy group Workers Defense Project was vocal before the meeting, calling on city leaders to ensure the safety of construction workers who might be employed building the HID facilities.
Under the proposal, the city would provide $920,576 in incentives for HID and the company would create about 276 jobs over the next two years. Various nonprofit groups wanted assurance that construction jobs associated with the project will be safe and will provide a living wage to workers.
"Unfortunately many of the construction jobs in Austin are low paying, so what we have right now is an opportunity to insure a living wage for training and safety standards for the workers who are helping to build this city," Cristina Tzintzun with the Workers Defense Project said.
There were also organizations arguing in favor of the project, including the Austin Chamber and representatives from various contractors' unions, who said the jobs would be a welcome addition to the Austin economy.
"We do have a great construction workforce here,” Phil Thoden with the Associated General Contractors of America said. “We're looking forward to this project and certainly encourage the City Council to endorse it."
Council members talked about putting specific wording in the contract to address wages and benefits.
According to Kevin Teehan, a representative from HID Global, his company is considering buying a plot of land along Interstate-35 at Parmer Lane. He says they would like to reach an agreement within the next 30 days.
HID has received an offer from the State of Texas for incentives to be paid from the Texas Enterprise Fund, but the company is still in negotiation with the city and Travis County.
Council set a public hearing for Sept. 27.