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Council Approves $1.5M in Incentives for Visa

The Austin City Council unanimouslyapproved a deal that offers the Visa credit card company about $1.5 million to bringalmost 800 jobs to the area.

The city’s received some criticism for offering big companies these incentives. A council committee has been talking about adding a provision that would require companies seeking incentives to meet a minimum wage requirement of $11 an hour. While Visa doesn’t have to meet those requirements, yesterday they offered to anyway.

“What it clearly demonstrates is that, in many cases, we can add these values to this proposal to only enhance it, make it that much better for all the folks that are impacted by it, and welcome you and Visa and all of your workforce to your new facility here in Austin. So I just wanted to thank you," said council member Mike Martinez.

But, as Mayor Lee Leffingwell pointed out, Visa is retrofitting a building, not constructing a new one. The company said if it were building a new one, it wouldn’t have been able to offer to pay the higher minimum wage.

“Given the fact that this particular project is not the construction of a major building, it is a renovation, which is essentially one-tenth of the size of an Apple for example," Kevin Johns, Director of Austin's Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office, said.

The state is also offering Visa nearly $8 million to bring more jobs to Austin. Besides Austin, the company is considering locations in Virginia and Colorado.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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