Report: Corporate Subsidies In Houston And Texas Not Helping Communities

The report by the Workers Defense Project condemns Texas’ practice of incentivizing businesses to build here.

The report by the nonprofit Workers Defense Project looks at tax incentives for developers and corporations in Houston, Austin and Dallas.

The group’s executive director, Jose Garza, said Houston has given more than $200 million in subsidies to developers.

And he said the community hasn’t gotten back much in return.

“What the study demonstrates is that there is incredibly lax oversight of these programs,” he said. “The records that the cities are keeping makes it very difficult to determine if corporations and businesses are living up their promises to create good jobs.”

So-called 380 agreements are meant to benefit both the city and businesses. The developer or property owner will get financial help in return for infrastructure improvements or the creation of a minimum number of jobs.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said these programs are part of the city’s toolbox for economic development.

He doesn’t disagree with the advocacy group’s view that workers should benefit.

TOP's Tarsha JacksonFlorian Martin | Houston Public Media
Tarsha Jackson, Harris County director of the Texas Organizing Project, talks about a report on corporate subsidies.

“What I’ve always said is that when companies and others are coming to us to get certain tax credits that the city of Houston ought to get something in return – good-paying jobs, making sure that they’re providing benefits that (are) comparable to what the city of Houston is offering itself,” Turner said.

The Texas Organizing Project is calling on the City Council to pass an ordinance that would require such agreements to include a $15 minimum wage.

Jose GarzaFlorian Martin | Houston Public Media
Jose Garza, executive director of the Workers Defense Project, talks about his group’s report on corporate subsidies.

See the complete Workers Defense Project report below.


Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter.Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club.Florian is a native of Germany. His studies in Leipzig...

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