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Austin approves incentive dollars for HID Global, solar rebates

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TWC News: Austin approves incentive dollars for HID Global, solar rebates
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Tarrytown Pharmacy has been in town for more than 70 years.

Now in a newer location, owner Mark Newberry's considered installing solar panels.

"We actually did some due diligence and looked into it,” he said. “It was just pretty cost prohibitive so it fell of the map at that time."

Rebates from Austin Energy and the federal government were not part of the original equation, but given new council incentive movements, Newberry is considering installing an array on his roof.

Austin City Council voted Thursday to give Newberry's pharmacy up to $67,000 in rebates over the next 10 years for lessening his demand on the electric grid.

Newberry says the solar panels are not just about saving his company money, but also to educate his neighborhood about the environmental impact.

"When it is a picture on a TV screen in your lobby that says, 'Hey, Tarrytown Pharmacy planted 147 trees today, has taken nine cars off the road,' People understand that,’" he said.

The council also approved solar rebates for four other companies and a school. Circuit of The Americas could get more than a half million dollars over the next decade.

Perhaps the more controversial type of incentives is those offered to companies looking to move to Austin.

The council also approved nearly $1 million in tax breaks to HID Global in exchange for 276 local technology jobs, but building the workspace ran into road blocks.

Council Member Mike Martinez tried to determine during Thursday’s meeting if HID would still move to Austin if the city required construction workers be paid a prevailing wage. The answer was no.

"What we need to do going forward, it sounds like, is to come up with a list of things that we are going to be asking anybody who we are giving any economic incentive deal to, to adhere to," Council Member Bill Spelman said.

At least one-fifth of HID Global's workforce will have to be considered economically disadvantaged, which includes those without a high school diploma, former foster children or those with disabilities.

The city's incentives unlock $1.9 million in incentives from the Texas Enterprise Fund.

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