Will Austin Go to City's Limits to Get Bigger Bite of Apple?

On its face, it would seem that Austin has a lot going for it as it tries to get a commitment from Apple Inc. to build the company's latest campus expansion in the capital city. Austin already plays host to about 3,500 Apple Americas Operations jobs, mostly in the areas of sales, administration and finance. And the computer technology juggernaut is looking to expand those operations.

But legacy apparently may not be enough. Austin economic development officials acknowledge that a couple of sites in Arizona remain on the table as possible locations. And the competition appears to be on between the various communities. The sealing of the deal could open the door to employment package negotiations for an estimated 3,600 new jobs over 10 years.

The pot has already been made fairly sweet by state officials looking to keep Apple's expansion in Texas. The Texas Enterprise Fund has pledged $21 million over the next 10 years. Later this week, the Austin city council is due to take up a proposal that would offer the company $8.6 million in tax abatements. City development director Kevin Johns says the payback would be an estimated $14 million in benefits. Travis County, which is home to Austin, could add to the offer, as well.

On the other side of the net is Arizona and a couple of communities around Phoenix. Included on the list are Mesa and Chandler. Mesa officials say they're prepared to match whatever Austin might put on the table. In Chandler, officials say they can offer Apple a site near an existing project being run by computer chip maker Intel.

Still, from all that can be seen in the media, it appears that Austin may have things sewn up. Arizona state officials say they did submit a list of incentives to attract Apple, but they say they apparently came too late. They say Apple indicated it had already opted for Austin.

For its part, Apple isn't commenting on the competition or when it might decide.

Source: Bloomberg.com, "Apple Awaits as Austin Digs Deeper to Net Texas Expansion," David Mildenberg and Amanda J. Crawford, March 15, 2012