Two new incentive deals aim to bring 640 tech jobs to Austin

Feb 7, 2014
Austin American Statesman

City and state officials said Thursday they are proposing millions in incentives for two California technology companies in a pair of deals that could bring 640 tech-related jobs to Austin


The proposed incentives packages are for Websense, a San Diego-based company that protects businesses from cyberattacks, and San Francisco-based Dropbox, a software and cloud storage company


The city and state incentives deals call for Websense, which employs more than 1,600 worldwide, to relocate its corporate headquarters from San Diego to Austin, create at least 470 jobs with an average salary of $82,000 and make a capital investment of $10 million. In exchange, Websense would get $4.5 million from the state-operated Texas Enterprise Fund, while the city of Austin has proposed a performance-based grant of $438,000 to be paid over a 10-year period


Dropbox — which already has a presence in Austin — is proposing “expanding into a larger, long-term facility” that would create 170 new jobs in Austin, according to the company’s filings with the city. The Texas Enterprise Fund is offering the company $1.5 million in incentives, while the city has proposed a performance-based grant of $244,500 that would be paid over a 10-year period. Dropbox would have to create 170 jobs with an average salary of $59,000 and make a capital investment of $5.5 million


City economic development officials hailed the proposed deals as good for Austin.


The city’s incentives proposals — which still require City Council approval — come just days after City Council members approved incentives to help lure Athenahealth to downtown’s Seaholm development.


Austin currently has 11 active economic development agreements with companies such as Apple, Facebook and Visa


If approved by the City Council, the Websense project would start in the fourth quarter of this year and be completed by the fourth quarter of 2015. The average annual wage of its employees in Austin would be $82,000, and the median annual wage would be $65,000, according to filings


Currently, Websense has no Austin presence, but the company was purchased in June by Vista Equity Partners, which has offices in Austin


The site Websense is considering for its Austin offices is 10900 Stonelake Blvd. in the Arboretum area. In city filings, Websense said its relocation would include “executive, finance and accounting, engineering, technical, marketing, sales, and administrative functions of the company.”


Dropbox already has a presence in Austin, but it is looking to increase its local workforce. The company recently opened a small office in Austin at 501 Congress Ave. downtown and is currently hiring about 30 employees


“Dropbox has a small core team in Austin already, drawn from its headquarters in San Francisco,” the city filing states. “Dropbox is confident that these employees can bring the culture of Dropbox to Austin, hire the most talented individuals, and continue to build a great service for years. Dropbox plans to recruit for the remainder of the positions from the local area.”


The incentives packages are scheduled to be presented to the City Council on Feb. 13, with a vote expected during a specially called meeting set for Feb. 20


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