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Travis County votes to accept 'Silicon Silver' application under new incentives policy

The Commissioners Court amended its policy on economic incentives following criticisms after negotiations with Tesla last year.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: The related video is about Tesla's $1.1 billion Gigafactory in southeast Travis County.

On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted to accept an economic incentive agreement application – typically for property tax breaks – from the Silicon Silver Project, the nickname for an application from an unnamed company.

The Commissioners Court amended its policy following criticisms after negotiations with Tesla last year, meaning the court must now share draft agreements publicly and hold public hearings before an agreement is made. Travis County said the move “prioritizes community input, workers’ rights and transparency.”

The company will also have to pay a $150,000 application fee to allow county staff to conduct the community engagement process for consideration of the application and long-term economic incentives.

According to Travis County, these provisions ask for stronger construction worker and employee protections, including fair wages indexed to keep pace with our economy, health insurance benefits and safer working conditions. The company’s name will be released upon receipt of its application, the county said.

“I am proud of the work we have done with our labor and community advocates to ensure this economic incentive agreement application for the Silicon Silver Project is considered with the most progressive worker and transparency protections ever adopted by Travis County,” said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. “Our community has made it clear that if you want to do business in Travis County, we expect significant investments that will improve the lives of all who live and work here. This is a step in the right direction to ensure that all future agreements are fair, equitable, transparent and shaped with the community’s involvement.”

A Wall Street Journal report last week revealed Samsung is considering an investment of up to $17 billion to build a chip-making factory in the Austin area. An important factor in whether the company moves forward with the expansion will be the availability of government incentives, according to that report.

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