Buda pushes for tech campus

The desire to bring a corporate technology campus to north Buda is leading city officials to a conference in Reno, Nevada to learn more about them.

Ann Miller, Buda Economic Development Corporation executive director, said gathering information on what tech campuses look for in a city could give Buda a boost in the eyes of tech companies.

Miller said the city is watching several tracts of land that were part of the Heep Ranch for a possible tech campus push. One parcel is located in the Sunfield Municipal Utility District, while another three tracts of land are owned by HFH Investments. Miller said those areas would make an “ideal” corporate campus or secondary headquarter site for a technology company.

“These parcels are not only ideal for a tech campus due to proximity to utilities and amenities, but they would also allow a tech campus to be constructed along scenic Onion Creek,” Miller said.

The discussion ramped up after Buda submitted its proposal to the Austin Chamber of Commerce for the Amazon HQ2 project. The bid for Amazon’s HQ2 could mean 50,000 jobs and an economic boon for any city that’s selected.

During and after the submission of the bid, Miller said the city worked with nearby property owners on the possibility of bringing a corporate campus to the area.

Buda was also approached by Venture Beat, which is hosting an invitation-only conference that assists cities attract tech companies. Miller said Buda is one of four Texas cities attending the conference; only 50 communities or economic development entities are attending.

Miller said the conference will focus on how cities can work with tech companies and what they require.

The conference centers on the boom experienced by Reno, which capitalized on the development of corporate campuses after the 2008 recession.

“We’re going to learn about the workforce and the city of Reno, how they went through a bad time with the economic recession and bounced back because they focused on economic development toward technology companies,” Miller said.

Miller said Buda could support a corporate campus, based on the city’s current workforce, many of whom currently work in the technology industry or in other white-collar jobs.

Potential for mixed-use office space – retail and residential together – can be developed as part of a corporate campus. However, Miller said all three properties are far enough away from downtown Buda to keep the city’s “small town feel.”

Having water and wastewater available on all the parcels works in Buda’s favor, too, Miller said. 

The recent announcement of Baylor Scott and White building a full-service hospital in town also plays a significant factor.

“Having a hospital will help us because one thing tech companies look for is amenities available to employees,” Miller said. “The immediate aspect of having a hospital here, instead of having to go to one seven miles down the road, makes Buda more attractive.”

All of the parcels of land also have access to State Highway 45 and Interstate 35.

The lack of a mass-transit system, though, is one item working against Buda, Miller said. The city is working on a plan for a mass-transit system that could potentially connect the area with south Austin and San Antonio.

A corporate campus is an enticing proposition for the city.

Miller said if a corporate campus locates in Buda proper, the city would generate a “tremendous” amount of property tax revenue.

Even if a campus is built outside of the city limits, its development could have a “spin-off impact” for the city, extending to workers infusing dollars into the city’s economy.

“Retail comes in that could generate sales tax for the community, but there would be so much interest in Buda from other retailers and businesses nearby,” Miller said. “The spin-off impact would be impactful on the property and sales tax.”

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