Dell Technologies' headquarters has been in Round Rock since 1994 -- save for a few years when the top executives relocated to West Austin. But there was a time in the early 1990s when Austin very much wanted to keep Dell within its city limits.
On Nov. 25, 1992, the American-Statesman ran an article with the headline "City considers Dell tax-share plan - council leaning toward expansion incentive."
The story by Kirk Ladendorf explains that Austin City Council members were supporting a "novel" incentive package designed to keep Dell in Austin. Dell, which at that time was an eight-year-old company, was in expansion mode and needed more space to accommodate its growing workforce.
The package the city of Austin was willing to offer in late 1992 included rebates on sales tax monies, but did not include property tax abatements. The story included a telling statement:
"Dell officials say Austin is their first choice for expansion, but they add that Round Rock remains an option if the company cannot reach a satisfactory agreement."
We know the rest of the story now. By April 1993, with talks in Austin at an impasse, Dell reached out to Round Rock and found a better 20-year deal that would allow the company a share of sales-tax revenue. According to an American-Statesman article from September 1993, total use and sales tax collections from Dell's operations could be $1.9 million in 1995, with the city keeping $1 million of that, and applying $625,000 against existing property taxes.
As Dell grew and its sales grew, its property tax would continue to decline.
The agreement was controversial at the time. Austinites accused Dell of being greedy and turning its back on its hometown; some Round Rock taxpayers objected to the size of the incentive deal.
Now that two decades have passed, Dell's presence in Round Rock has unquestionably been an economic boon for the area, spawning homes, restaurants and retail that cater to a sizeable Dell workforce.
Read the story for yourself below. (Apologies for the dark background color; it's how the microfilm looks.)
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