Council Preview: The Cloud of Athena
Healthcare software firm considering a deal for Seaholm
By Michael King, 8:00AM, Mon. Jan. 20, 2014
The final agenda for City Council’s Jan. 23 meeting posted Friday doesn’t differ dramatically from the draft – the headline addition is a briefing on a proposed economic development agreement with athenahealth, inc. – which apparently suffers from a shortage of capital letters – to become a corporate tenant at Downtown’s former Seaholm Power Plant.
Pending the briefing, the agenda offers no detail yet on the incentive proposal, but published reports describe an eventual capital investment of $13 million by the Massachusetts-and-cloud-based healthcare software firm, creating 607 jobs with a whopping average annual wage of $130,000. The state’s Texas Enterprise Fund has pledged $5 million in incentives, contingent on local support – Austin is reportedly proposing a 10-year incentive package totaling $680,000, with a net return to the city of $1.7 million, primarily in additional property taxes.
But the company has been quick to note that it is also considering alternative sites for expansion, including locations in Massachusetts, California, and Georgia – where state and local jurisdictions are also discussing economic incentives. The deal is not posted for action, but the agenda notes that “public comment is permitted” on the staff presentation.
For more detail on the rest of this week’s agenda, see “More Agenda, More Council” in last week’s print edition – and there may be more to report following Tuesday’s 9am Council work session.
Notable for its absence from the final agenda is any proposal on the disputed Blue Bonnet Hills development project, discussed at length by Amy Smith last week in her Then There’s This column: “Overlooking the Springs.” Council Member Laura Morrison has since told Smith she is still developing a proposal, but “still working on determining the best approach as it is a complicated issue, so I decided to defer a resolution.” Anticipate something on the subject before the bluebonnets are blooming . . .