Gov. Greg Abbott has made his first use of the politically touchy Texas Enterprise Fund, offering a multimillion-dollar grant to a tractor maker moving from California to Grapevine.
The company, Kubota Tractor and Credit Corporation, will receive $3.8 million from the so-called deal-closing fund if it meets expectations for job creation and other benchmarks, Abbott's office said Thursday. The move is expected to bring at least 344 new jobs to Texas and $51 million in capital investment.
In a statement, Kubota CEO and President Masato Yoshikawa said the company had wanted to relocate to the "central part" of the country but was undecided on which state. Texas "helped make the decision easier," partly due to the incentives, he said.
Abbott's office confirmed it was the first time he has tapped the enterprise fund since taking office in January.
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The fund and others like it have been plagued by reports of cronyism and mismanagement, leading some lawmakers to call for its abolition. Abbott has said the state's economic incentive programs need reform, and he has proposed getting rid of the Emerging Technology Fund, a program meant to lure cutting-edge technology and research to Texas.
Construction on Kubota's new headquarters should be done by the first quarter of 2017, according to Abbott's office.
It did not take long for Kubota to weigh in on politics in its new home state. The company provided a statement Thursday evening saying it was keeping an eye on House Bill 4105, which would prohibit the use of state or local funds for same-sex marriage licenses. Dell, the Texas-based computer company, has already come out against the proposal, a vote on which Democrats were working to delay late into the night Thursday.
“Kubota has a strong commitment to diversity and we embrace it as a company. We will monitor the proposed legislation and we have no further comment at this time,” said Dan Jones, the company’s vice president for human resources, legal and administration.