Economic Development Policy
On August 30, the Austin City Council approved three items to advance Austin's new economic development vision.
- Economic Development Principles and Chapter 380 Policy
- Business Expansion Incentive Program for existing local business expansions, targeted hiring and external relocations
- Development of a Locational Enhancement Program
The Guiding Principles provide the fundamental overview of the City of Austin's proposed Economic Development policy objectives. This is the first time the City of Austin has identified a set of overarching values for Economic Development. The document provides context for a purposeful approach that aims to address the needs of the community; respond to the direction from City of Austin leadership; identifies the challenges facing the business community; and responds to market conditions to engage in proactive intervention.
The Chapter 380 Policy sets up a structure to create market responsive programs that achieve Economic Development values as defined by the Guiding Principles. This framework will assist staff, Council, and potential program applicants understand the basic administrative components of future programs including the program creation process, project selection guidelines, program stewardship processes and regular reassessment periods.
The first program under the new Guiding Principles and Chapter 380 framework is the Business Expansion Program Portfolio. This document outlines the goals of the program, intended outcomes, and three categories of incentives to employers that are designed to achieves those goals. The document also addresses minimum requirements; general eligibility; exceptions and waivers; community benefits and bonuses; and overall project scoring and available incentive allocations.
View August 30th Council Meeting Discussion & Action:
Stakeholder Engagement Process Background:
In March 2017, Austin's City Council passed Resolution No. 20170302-034 to initiate a stakeholder consultation process and develop recommendations for revising the City of Austin’s current Chapter 380 Performance-Based Contracts Policy (or the “incentives policy” as it is more commonly known.)
On May 8, 2018, after a year of community engagement, community leadership consultation, best practice analysis and program development work, Austin City Council heard recommendations for a new Economic Development policy direction from City staff and a consultant. The new vision for the policy includes a focus on reflecting today’s economic conditions and addressing current community challenges. Proposal includes expanding the policy to include support for small businesses, incentives for employers seeking to hire economically and socio-economically disadvantaged individuals, and recruiting external businesses that provide community benefits beyond jobs, including transportation infrastructure, sustainable operations, new opportunities for small, local, and creative, equitable hiring practices and other community benefits.
Visualize Impact of New Incentives Policy:
Community Engagement (Phases 1-5):
Phase 1: Community Conversations
Goal of Session: Listen to the Community (Large-scale information collection exercise)
The week of June 5-8, 2017, 455 community members were invited to participate in 8 sessions that focused on specific areas of economic development: Business Recruitment, Business Expansion, Small Business, Workforce Development, Creative Sector, Real Estate, and Social Enterprise led off with a Kick-Off Welcome Session. 260 attendees participated (160 unique) resulting in ~2,500 pieces of feedback that staff summarized and analyzed to develop common themes and priorities.
Phase 2: Stakeholder/Public Survey
Goal of Survey: Engage with the Policy Language (E-survey focused on sorting specific requirements and values)
A survey launched in July 2017 requesting feedback from the community on two main topics: 1) which current policy requirements belong in which potential new program, and 2) which community exchange values should be prioritized for each new program. 82 survey respondents resulted in ~87% average completion rate from a diverse array of community members including subject matter experts, businesses, non profit and government entities, industry groups and individual community members. Outreach included direct email to ~450 community members, Facebook, promotional video, CitySource and CityView promotion, multiple city newsletters, press releases, and media articles in four local publications. The survey was also translated and made available in Spanish both electronically and via hard copy by request.
Phase 3: Community Leaders Session
Goal of Session: Prioritize Policy Attributes and Values (Prioritize collected feedback and engage Economic Development experts)
On September 6, 2017, Economic Development staff conducted the next phase of stakeholder engagement in response to Resolution No. 20170302-034. 32 attendees participated with goals over the 6-hour session to clarify community priorities, develop a realistic and achievable new set of economic development values and test the concept of seven different forms of work.
Phase 4: Stakeholder Briefings
Goal of Presentations: Validate (Present findings and gauge validity, fill gaps)
The final phase of stakeholder engagement in response to Resolution No. 20170302-034 conducted presentations to 21 Boards and Commissions, 5 current Chapter 380 contract holders, 8 real estate entities/groups, 10 financial institution representatives, 9 incubator/accelerator representatives and 24 other community stakeholders. Commissioners and participants were asked to review the community feedback in order to fill in missing gaps, express concerns, agreement, ask clarifying questions and provide other feedback on the direction of the new policy.
Other Information: Best Practices / Peer Review
Goal of Best Practices / Peer Review: Discover and compare competitive economic development incentive policies within Texas, in other US cities and across disciplines.
Alongside stakeholder and community outreach requested in Resolution No. 20170302-034, the Economic Development Department examined the broad approaches and specific programs in use by peer cities in Texas, the US and abroad. Looking toward the possibility of implementing successful models here in Austin, the analysis concentrated on areas of particular relevance to that city. These areas are:
•Business Recruitment, Retention and Expansion;
•Creative and Artistic Development;
•Small Business; and
The study has identified the major programs, if any, that comparison cities have implemented in each of these categories.
Phase 5: City Leadership Work Session
Goal of Presentation: Brief Council on stakeholder engagement (Present findings and gauge palatability of recommendations for policy changes)
Council Briefing Video (select Item B.1 - Chapter 380 re-write update):
Council Briefing Slide Deck:
Council Briefing Notes Report:
For further inquiries or comments, please contact:
City of Austin Economic Development Department – Global Business Expansion Division
David Colligan, Acting Assistant Director with the Economic Development Department