Travis County could be the home of Tesla's planned truck manufacturing plant, but the electric-car maker has said tax incentives will play a role in the decision.
Travis County Commissioners on Tuesday heard from county staff and residents, as well as Tesla representatives, about a proposal for a tax rebate worth about $14 million over 10 years. In return, Tesla would provide at least 5,000 jobs in Eastern Travis County, two-thirds of which would be the middle-skill jobs Austin has been trying to recruit, Tesla says.
Valerie Workman, head of Tesla’s human resources in North America, says they’ll be high-paying, too.
Workman told commissioners people can get jobs “right out of high school to become a production associate, to make a good salary and have phenomenal benefits.”
Rohan Patel, Tesla’s senior global director of public policy and business development, said partnerships with schools in Eastern Travis County would "be advantageous for Tesla in terms of accelerating our efforts to mentor students, to develop the next generation of the workforce.”
He specifically cited conversations he’s had with leaders at Huston-Tillotson University and Del Valle Independent School District.
The tax break program from the county requires Tesla to meet several requirements before they see any of the rebate.
“The beauty of this is that the company has to pay their taxes first, and then if they’re deemed in full compliance, they get the rebate,” said Diana Ramirez, director of Travis County’s economic development and strategic investments. “So, nothing is fronted to them. They don’t get anything in advance.”
Tesla is considering a parcel of land off of State Highway 130, just north of the Colorado River — 5 miles northeast of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, several people stressed to commissioners to look into the company’s track record with other local agreements that later became strained. CEO Elon Musk threatened to move the company headquarters away from California just last month.
Travis County commissioners could deliberate over the proposal and vote on the deal as soon as next week.
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