Yesterday, the Austin City Council approved and adopted new Economic Development Guiding Principles and a Chapter 380 Policy for the city. Council also approved the creation of the Business Expansion Program and cleared the way for a future Locational Enhancement Program, both with a focus to deliver more inclusive and equitable community benefits for Austin. With added priority for local business expansions, the updated guiding principles and programs are also reflective of Council policy priorities and aligned with Austin’s Strategic Direction 2023.
“Austin’s new Economic Development Policy will advance the department’s outcome-focused programs that balance the exchange of incentives with community benefits identified as important by the community and City Council,” said Rebecca Giello, Interim Director for the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department. “The policy update allows for a range of economic development tools that can address community needs and service gaps. It allows the department to be more responsive to market realities and creates an agile framework for future programs to respond to Austinites’ expectations of economic development investments.”
The economic development policy reform was the result of more than 15 months of stakeholder feedback to redefine the focus for investments of economic development incentives.
Several requirements that were shaped by the community feedback and Council policy direction for the first program under the new Policy framework, which is the Business Expansion Program, include:
Requirement of a living wage paid to the Austin‐based employees of the business receiving incentives;
Intentional focus on community benefits with requirement that incentives only be granted to higher‐wage firms for providing community benefits other than high wage jobs.
A program category to help individuals who have barriers to employment find employment opportunities.
Requirement that medium and large existing local expansion projects employ residents in the Austin MSA.