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State, city offer SunPower development deal in return for jobs

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 by Austin Monitor

The State of Texas is offering global solar provider SunPower $2.5 million over 10 years and the City of Austin plans to offer about $900,000 in return for locating its corporate operations center in Austin—along with creation of 450 jobs and a $10 million investment.


Both are offering cash payments as opposed to tax abatements.


“Clean technology job growth is important to our future,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “This is the type of industry we aim to attract and the kind of jobs we want in Austin. SunPower is the third largest solar company in the world, and we can have them right here in Central Texas. Our cost-benefit analysis shows this to be a good investment with a net benefit to our community of over $800,000. The indirect economic impact of bringing SunPower and these 450 jobs to Austin is certainly in the tens of millions. The Austin-area will grow, and we continue to create of the right kind of jobs for our community.”


The City Council and the public will hear details of the plan next Thursday afternoon. Council will vote on the deal the following Thursday, Dec. 9, according to attorney Nikelle Meade, who represents SunPower. Meade is with the Brown McCarroll law firm.


She said SunPower sees Texas as fertile ground for the growth of the solar industry. “They think the best way to make that happen is to have a presence in the state,” Meade said.


In living up to the agreements, SunPower is expected to hire at least 80 percent of its new employees locally and pay them an average annual salary of $70,000. The company, which is based in San Jose, Calif., plans to hire 115 new employees in Austin next year, 125 the following year, and so on through 2014.


Like other companies seeking a city development package, the solar manufacturer must agree to follow all city regulations, attempt to hire minority employees and minority-owned businesses for professional services and construction and locate in the city’s desired development zone.


SunPower has not yet picked out a location, Meade said.


Meade said if the Council does not approve the incentives her client would likely take an offer from Denver, which is also offering some incentives, but not quite as much as Austin.


To see the package, click here:

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