ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Williamson County lands $1 billion Apple campus

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While Amazon elected earlier this year not to locate its coveted HQ2 campus in Central Texas, Williamson County officials wrapped up 2018 with the announcement that Apple invest $1 billion to build a second Northwest Austin campus, initially creating 4,000 new jobs with more planned.

On Tuesday, county commissioners voted unanimously to approve an incentive agreement that will refund or abate 65 percent of the company’s property taxes for a period of 15 years. In exchange, Apple will spend $400 million to purchase land and developing its new campus along Parmer Lane between Anderson Mill Road and McNeil Road in Northwest Austin, less than a mile from the company’s existing campus.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce released a statement commending Williamson County’s adoption of the incentive plan. 

“The potential for up to 15,000 good paying jobs across all skill levels represents new opportunities for someone to get a job, advance their career, pay their bills and provide for their families,” Austin Chamber Board Chair Phil Wilson said in the written statement. “Up to $1 billion of investment is a number that speaks for itself and is an influx of capital that will provide other jobs as the new campus begins construction. Once again congratulations, and thank you to Judge Gattis, the commissioners, Apple, and all who made this possible."

The deal is in the form of a Chapter 381 economic incentive agreement, which officials have said will still result in the county receiving ad valorem taxes on the 133-acre property as a result of changing the zoning from agricultural to commercial.

Cedar Park Economic Development Director Ben White said the various communities involved were able to work together to secure the coveted expansion. 

“It’s a unique situation we find ourselves in in Williamson County. We all play together, we all win together,” said White, noting that Apple began a private, nationwide search about the same time last year as Amazon announced it was conducting a search for its second headquarters. 

White told media on Tuesday the quality of education provided by both Leander ISD and Round Rock ISD was a significant factor. 

County Commissioner Cynthia Long said the Apple deal has helped fast track a number of transportation improvement projects she’s been working to get passed for six years, including adding managed lanes, removing stop lights and adding turn lanes. 

Williamson County has the right to terminate the agreement if the company fails to meet its commitments by building the campus on the selected site, fails to hire the number of employees agreed on schedule, or fails to pay its property taxes on time. 

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