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City Council Approves Athenahealth Incentives Deal - But Not Unanimously

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News
Massachusetts-based athenahealth will open its offices inside the former Seaholm Power Plant

Last night the Austin City Council approved a deal that offers nearly $680,000 dollars in incentives for athenahealth to expand in Austin. The grant will be offered in addition to a $5 million subsidy from Gov. Rick Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund.

But not everyone is happy with the deal. Some council members argue that the city’s booming economy doesn’t need to offer subsidies to bring business to Austin. (The deal passed on a 5-2 vote, with city council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo voting no.)

Austin Monitor publisher Michael Kanin says that this debate is heating up as council members become increasingly divided on the issue of business incentives.

“There are definitely some council members that are up there right now that are pretty frustrated with incentives in general and it has nothing to do with the company that’s coming – in this case athenahealth” Kanin says.

“We’re number one on a lot of lists for a reason, and that’s because we do the right things. And I think that the chamber folks would argue that the right thing is the incentives.”

The Massachusetts-based athenahealth promises to invest over $7 million in the Austin economy, and bring 607 new jobs to the city by the end of 2023. Read more about the agreement here.

Coming as the Austin City Council transitions to single-member districts, these objections could become part of a bigger debate.

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