- The U.S. Army selected Austin, TX as the site of its new Army Futures Command headquarters, which will develop new technology for the armed forces.
- The site is a key part of the Army’s modernization effort, which the military is touting as the largest organizational change since 1973. The site will head up research and development on new operational equipment, future force designs and modern material solutions for soldiers, among other projects.
- Austin beat out four other finalist locations for the headquarters: the Twin Cities in Minnesota; Philadelphia; Boston; and Raleigh, NC.
The Army said Austin’s existing tech scene and academic environment from the University of Texas made it the ideal site for the new headquarters. KXAN quoted Army Secretary Mark Esper as saying Austin "not only possesses the talent, entrepreneurial spirit and access to key partners we are seeking, but also because it offers the quality of life our people desire and a cost of living they can afford." The new site is supposed to hit the ground running, with as many as 500 new staff members.
Austin also provided incentives to the Army, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but Army officials declined to elaborate. The newspaper reported Minnesota had offered up to $1 million in funding through a business development program as part of its unsuccessful bid.
The competition for the site — which also attracted 10 semifinalists including Dallas, New York and San Diego — mirrors the very public ongoing competition for Amazon’s HQ2 and the more guarded search for another Apple corporate facility (Austin remains on the list for the Amazon facility). Amazon is looking at criteria such as quality of living, public transit and tech advances. Similarly, the Army clearly prioritized an existing community that could bolster its research and development efforts. It remains to be seen what role public incentives played in Austin’s bid, but clearly the city’s existing tech industry helped tip the scales.