California OKs $91 million in tax breaks for 114 businesses
SACRAMENTO — A state economic development board on Thursday approved an $8 million tax credit for General Motors as the company looks to expand its autonomous vehicle division in San Francisco.
The GM tax credit was among more than $91 million in California Competes incentives for 114 companies approved at a board meeting in Sacramento of Gov. Jerry Brown’s GO-Biz agency.
The credits range from GM’s $8 million to $20,000 for MinowCPA Corporation, an accounting firm that plans to hire eight people in Newport Beach and Santa Ana.
GM promises to hire 1,163 workers at an average salary of $116,000. San Francisco is the hub for GM’s autonomous vehicle research and development since the company acquired Cruise Automation last year, said Kevin Kelly, a GM spokesman.
The new workers will include software designers, on-street vehicle testers and support functions like human resources, he said. The company is testing 50 autonomous vehicles on public roads in San Francisco, the Detroit metro area and Scottsdale, Arizona.
“As autonomous car technology matures, our company’s talent needs will continue to increase,” Cruise Automation CEO Kyle Vogt said in a statement. “Accessing the world-class talent pool that the San Francisco Bay Area offers is one of the many reasons we plan to grow our presence in the state.”
Board member Madeline Janis said she was concerned that GM representatives, attending the meeting by phone, were unable to say how many of the company’s California employees are women. Still, the tax credit was approved unanimously.
The Bay Area has become a leading region for companies looking to build autonomous and alternative-fuel vehicles, including Uber and Tesla.
Electric-bus manufacturer Proterra was approved for a $7.5 million tax credit in exchange for hiring 432 people in Burlingame and in the City of Industry east of Los Angeles.
The Proterra tax credit was approved despite concerns raised by the United Steelworkers union, which said the company is likely falling short of job-creation commitments promised to the state of South Carolina in exchange for tax incentives. Ken Leacock, Proterra’s director of government relations, did not dispute that job growth in South Carolina has fallen short and said the company is in talks with state officials to remain in compliance.
The electric bus market was slow to take off but Proterra now has a backlog of orders and is expanding rapidly, he said.
“It’s a completely different marketplace, it’s a completely different company now,” Leacock said.
Tax breaks were also approved for several technology companies, including the online streaming service Hulu which sought $4.3 million in exchange for adding 410 workers in San Francisco, Santa Monica and Novato. Other tech companies approved for at least $1 million in tax breaks include education site Course Hero, coupon service Honey Science Corporation, construction software maker Procore Technologies and ServiceTitan.
Renovate America Inc., which provides clean-energy and energy-efficiency financing, will get a $5.5 million tax credit to hire 542 people in San Diego County and San Francisco.
Meanwhile, the board rescinded $730,000 worth of tax credits previously approved for four companies after the firms said their plans changed and they will no longer be able to maintain the job-creation or other commitments required to claim the tax credits.