Travis County approves incentive agreement with Charles Schwab

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Travis County Commissioners Court approved an economic incentive agreement with Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. during its Aug. 5 meeting.

The court approved the agreement 4–1. Commissioner Ron Davis opposed.

The county stands to earn $3.3 million to $3.6 million in revenue from the agreement over 10 years.

Charles Schwab announced plans to build a 250,000–300,000 square foot regional office at 2309 Gracy Farms, a 50-acre site in north Austin.

The company would invest $196.7 million, maintain 1,683 jobs and create 823 new jobs, according to the agreement. Charles Schwab currently employs 927 people in the area.

The average employee salary would be $79,602, the median salary would be $69,032 and the minimum wage would be $15 per hour.

The company would offer health benefits and 401k programs to employees, among other benefits. 

Katie Petersen Gipson, Travis County senior planning and budget analyst, said the investment would be split in two parts. Charles Schwab would invest $111.7 million by the end of 2016 and 56.9 million by the end of 2023.

In exchange for meeting agreed up benchmarks, Travis County will offer grants equivalent to a 48.5 percent rebate on ad valorem property taxes. The company could qualify for an additional 3 percent rebate for constructing the new facility to eco-friendly building standards.

The county has a recapture provision to recover funds in the last five years of the agreement if Charles Schwab does not meet benchmarks by the end of the term.

During the Aug. 5 meeting, some speakers took issue with offering incentives to a wealthy company and questioned whether local residents would benefit from the new jobs.

Others endorsed the agreement as a way to encourage local job and economic growth.

Speakers on both sides of the issue said Charles Schwab should want to come to Austin without an incentive.  

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said Travis County “is in the incentives game” because many areas want to attract companies like Charles Schwab.

Commissioner Bruce Todd said it’s important for the county to keep its word regarding implementing the economic incentive policy it approved last year.

Commissioner Margaret Gomez said she would support the agreement but felt a larger discussion about affordability needs to take place.

Commissioner Ron Davis said taxpayers are overwhelmed with the burden of taxes and are asking leaders to “hold the line” until the issue of affordability can be better addressed.