Austin may soon be home to a tech plant that would dwarf the Tesla Gigafactory in both investment and job creation.
Samsung Electronics Co. is considering starting construction on a $10 billion memory chip plant in Austin as soon as this year, Bloomberg reported Friday.
The Samsung plant would compete with industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which is scheduled to begin construction on a $12 billion semiconductor factory in Phoenix later this year.
Samsung is capitalizing on a federal effort to draw advanced manufacturing plants away from Asia, Bloomberg reported.
Samsung Austin Semiconductor LLC purchased roughly 258 acres of land in Northeast Austin in late October, near its existing chip manufacturing plant. Last month, Austin City Council approved a rezoning request from the company to allow for industrial use.
"The proposed (zoning) agreement will reflect almost the same conditions approved on the current Samsung Austin Semiconductor site," Case Manager Sherri Sirwaitis wrote in a staff report submitted to the council.
Samsung opened its first Austin plant in 1997 and has since expanded its campus, which now spans roughly 300 acres and employs around 3,000 people, according to the Austin Business Journal.
The company also has a long history of working with state and local governments on tax incentive deals. Between 2009 and 2019, Travis County rebated Samsung $65 million as part of an ongoing incentives agreement.
One of the people close to the matter told Bloomberg that the company may go ahead without such an incentives agreement. But the Travis County Commissioners Court is scheduled to consider whether to accept an application for an economic incentive agreement on Tuesday. A spokesperson would not say which company has filed the application—nicknamed "Project Silicon Silver."
Travis County commissioners last considered an unnamed economic incentives agreement application in May 2020, which was later revealed to have been filed by Tesla. They later approved a multimillion-dollar incentives agreement for the electric automaker, which is currently building a $1.1 billion Gigafactory in Southeast Travis County.
In response to criticism regarding the agreement, Travis County commissioners voted unanimously last month to amend its economic incentives policy to include community input requirements. As a result, if commissioners vote to accept the Project Silicon Silver application, the court will be required to post draft agreements publicly and host public hearings before taking action on any incentive agreement.
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Nicklaus Pereksta says he loves photographing enthusiastic people, and it’s why his latest gig offering pictures to people out on Lady Bird Lake’s hike and bike trail is going smoothly. He sets up his gear on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge and puts out a sign: Photos, $10.
“Overwhelmingly, this has been a really positive experience,” Pereksta said. “I get excited when I wake up in the morning and I can't wait to go to work.”
Bikers and joggers are excited about it too. On the pedestrian bridge leading to downtown Thursday morning, a man on an e-bike rode up and posed, wanting more photos.
“I posted the last pictures on Instagram and people loved it. They asked, ‘where is this guy?’” the biker told Pereksta. Bashfully, Pereksta, who also photographs landscapes and at weddings and other events, said he was happy to hear that.
Pereksta started these photos about a month ago, after the strenuous runs required in his valet job started causing pain in his legs. And though he has a passion for photography, he wasn’t so sure when he started working independently if it would work out.
He felt uncertain about the demand for it and was also worried about having lots of expensive equipment out in the open.
“Then like the first day was nothing but high praise and people are like, this is so awesome. This is great. I've never seen anything like this before. I was like, Wow, this was really good, like positive turnout. So I got encouraged.”
Now, he wants to expand and is thinking of contacting the Mueller Farmers Market about how to become a vendor. Still, he'll carry a connection to photographing on the bridge since the word bridge is related to his last name.
“It's a name my great, great, great grandfather came up with when he was marrying somebody. It's actually quite a romantic name. It means a joining of two bridges," Pereksta said. "So, I thought it was ironic that I'm set up on a bridge. I'm kind of representing my last name right now.”
Austonia talked to Pereksta about life in Austin, where he’s lived for eight years after living in Boston doing band photography.
What was your first experience with Austin?
I came here to visit some friends and they took me to Barbarella. So we went to Barbarella and I was like, ‘wow, this place is great.’ And then the restaurants and the food and going to Barton Springs. I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ Because there's nothing like that in Boston. If you want to go to a natural spring, you got to go to New Hampshire. There's no pools in the city at all. So there's lots of swimming out here.
What do you like best about Austin?
You go to any little quiet bar and there's a band playing that should be like onstage for a sold out show. Yeah, they're playing to 10 people, right? Like, one of the best bands ever and they're playing for 10 people, right? And just little magic moments like that are pretty fun. You just run into little random weird things.
What do you think makes Austin different from other places?
There’s no fall.
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