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Summary:

Facebook is coming to Austin with plans to create 200 jobs as part of its first big U.S. expansion, if the city will approve $200,000 in incentives on top of the state’s offer of $1.4 million. So will Facebook help keep Austin weird?

Facebook is coming to Austin with plans to create 200 jobs, according to the Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office. Perry announced today that the state would offer $1.4 million in incentives through the state’s Emerging Technology Fund Texas Enterprise Fund if Facebook chooses Austin its first big U.S. expansion location. That’s right — if.

The Austin expansion and the ETF TEF funding is conditioned on a city incentive package worth $200,000. The city will vote in March on whether or not it will approve the incentives, likely before South by Southwest, which starts on March 12. If all goes well with the city approval, a Facebook spokeswoman says the company could open an Austin office in May for its online operations team. Meanwhile city documents and Facebook say that the  company is still exploring other locales.

Facebook, which employs 1,200 people and has 400 million registered users, is following in the tradition of several Silicon Valley companies by locating deep in the heart of Texas. Google actually opened an Austin office in 2008, but then backpedaled a few months later. Intel, Borland Software and AMD have all had public Austin expansion plans, sometimes followed by equally public contractions.

However, I’m irritated by the use of incentives to draw Facebook to Austin, even as I realize that it could help our local tech community. I feel like Austin is a strong enough contender to stand among the top cities for a Facebook’s expansion given our talent, lower cost of living and “hip” vibe, and I hate the arms race and entitlement among corporations that the practice of offering incentives perpetrates.

Anyhow, welcome to Austin, Facebook. As a tip, don’t try to build anything above the Edwards aquifer, and you’ll be fine.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr user Igor Bespamnatyov

  1. Funny how Perry is cutting thousands of state and university jobs in Austin but is playing the fool for Facebook. No doubt the “on the take from business” city will vote in his favor. Lame. FU Perry.

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  2. It’s the Texas Enterprise Fund, not the Emerging Technology Fund.

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    1. Tony, thank you. Let me fix.

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  3. I wouldn’t single Facebook out here, Stacey. As you probably know, many companies are holding local governments hostage, given the politics of job creation.

    Google had a similar case a few years ago in one of the Carolinas. It was quite controversial and the amount involved a much higher number than Facebook’s alleged incentive.

    Not that two wrongs make a right…

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    1. Phil, I’m not singling out Facebook so much as I’m commenting on the practice. It makes complete sense for a company to try for incentives. I’m just frustrated by governments using them.

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  4. [...] Facebook $1.4 million in incentives to establish the new operation — along with its 200 jobs — in the city of Austin.The deal is contingent on the city of Austin agreeing to pitch in $200,000 of incentives itself and [...]

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  5. [...] Facebook $1.4 million in incentives to establish the new operation — along with its 200 jobs — in the city of Austin.The deal is contingent on the city of Austin agreeing to pitch in $200,000 of incentives itself and [...]

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  6. [...] Facebook is planning to open a new office outside of its Palo Alto, California headquarters, and the office of Texas Governor Rick Perry announced in a Facebook note (How appropriate!) that the state is willing to offer Facebook $1.4 million in incentives to establish the new operation — along with its 200 jobs — in the city of Austin. [...]

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  7. [...] Facebook is planning to open a new office outside of its Palo Alto, California headquarters, and the office of Texas Governor Rick Perry announced in a Facebook note (How appropriate!) that the state is willing to offer Facebook $1.4 million in incentives to establish the new operation — along with its 200 jobs — in the city of Austin. [...]

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  8. With job losses in a very weak economy and the challenge and pressure for State and local governments to create job, Facebook and the likes of Facebbok are in the drivers seat to craft the best incentive possible for them. Why not, we live in a free market and market forces dictate supply and demand situation. If they can get a deal, good for them

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  9. [...] Facebook is planning to open a new office outside of its Palo Alto, California headquarters, and the office of Texas Governor Rick Perry announced in a Facebook note (How appropriate!) that the state is willing to offer Facebook $1.4 million in incentives to establish the new operation — along with its 200 jobs — in the city of Austin. [...]

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  10. [...] Facebook is planning to open a new office outside of its Palo Alto, California headquarters, and the office of Texas Governor Rick Perry announced in a Facebook note (How appropriate!) that the state is willing to offer Facebook $1.4 million in incentives to establish the new operation — along with its 200 jobs — in the city of Austin. [...]

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