San Marcos says new businesses have to pay $15/hour

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SAN MARCOS -- San Marcos City Council unanimously passed a resolution requiring incoming businesses pay employees $15/hour in order to receive job incentives.

Incentives include rebates, tax breaks, grants and benefits provided by the city.

Gabriel Anaya, general manager of Epic Piping, says the Baton Rouge, La.-based company most likely would not have moved to San Marcos in 2015 without the tax incentives. They currently have 248 employees with plans to expand to 600 employees by the end of 2016.

"(San Marcos) provides us with wonderful tax incentives, training grants, training services, grant money with Austin Community College," Anaya said.

The city also cover training expenses for those new to the industry, and offer raise and profit-sharing opportunities for employees. Epic Piping starts all employees at $16.50/hour.

"You want to keep that talent, you need to pay properly. What I used to say, if you pay bananas, you get monkeys," Anaya said.

While Epic Piping is committed to paying above the threshold, some are concerned the policy will scare off potential businesses. But Councilman Scott Gregson, who helped draft the rule, said the policy only dictates incentives.

"This is a family living wage. And that’s that dollar amount that we viewed can provide somebody with a roof over their head, food on the table, money in the rainy day fund," Gregson said.

Businesses who don't want to pay the required $15/hour are still welcome in San Marcos. They just won't receive any tax incentives or benefits.

Adriana Cruz, the president of the Greater San Marcos Partnership, said they've received no push back from prospective businesses and most incoming, skill-based businesses already meet or exceed the threshold.

"Our goal is to create and pursue high-paying jobs, and this is just helping us to implement that," Cruz said.

For Amanda Ramos, a welder at Epic Piping, the wage bump has been life-changing. She's been with Epic Piping for nine months, and says she's making $9 an hour more than she was at her previous job.

"It’s been a great stress off my shoulders to know that I’m better to support my family and my daughter. Giving her other opportunities. Taking her out places I never thought I’d even see myself," Ramos said.

The average household income in San Marcos is $27,000, which is about $13.00 an hour. The average across the county is $34,000, which is about $16.83/hour.

Cruz says the policy will not apply to Amazon, which entered into an agreement with the city last year to open a plant in the near future which will create about 1,000 new jobs.

Incentives are available to incoming businesses or businesses in the city that are expanding.

Past Story on Epic Piping

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