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Big-dollar incentive offers went into helping bring Hulu to SA

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(Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Hulu)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Offers of big-dollar incentives went into helping lure Hulu to San Antonio.

The video-streaming company announced Thursday it will open its new Viewer Experience Operations headquarters in San Antonio. The headquarters, which will open later this year "pending final lease negotiations, incentive agreements and approvals," will bring more than 300 jobs in 2017 and more than 500 total jobs in 2018, said Ben Smith, Hulu's head of experience.

The state, city and county all put up big offers to help San Antonio beat out Albuquerque for the facility and the jobs that will go with it.

The state said it has extended a $1.3 million grant offer through the Texas Enterprise Fund.

The city's incentives include a six-year, 100 percent real and personal property tax abatement, valued at about $278,589. The county is proposing a similar deal of a 90 percent abatement for 10 years that Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff estimated at about a $400,000 value.

The Commissioners Court and City Council will vote on the proposals next week, though the county's vote will technically be to allow staff members to begin negotiations.

The city and county, both their deals are tied to Hulu creating jobs. Texas Enterprise Fund grant recipients are also required to fulfill the terms of a job creation agreement, though a news release from Gov. Greg Abbott's office announcing Hulu's intentions did not specifically say if an agreement had been signed yet.

The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation president and CEO Jenna Saucedo-Herrera said everyone was aggressive in pursuing Hulu, especially as it was in the technology sector — a target industry.

"Collectively, the idea was 'double down, and let's make it happen,'" Saucedo-Herrera said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff called Hulu the second "marquee" tech company to arrive in San Antonio, after Rackspace

"That will help us build the tech industry," Wolff said. "And the reason we do focus on that, that's where the really good paying jobs are, and it's the future."

Saucedo-Herrera said even more than the monetary incentives, the available workforce and fit with the community helped bring Hulu to San Antonio.

Smith seemed to reinforce that view, saying in a news release, "With its vibrant culture and large and diverse talent pool, we're incredibly excited to partner with the city to make San Antonio home to our viewer experience operations."

The new operations headquarters will allow Hulu viewers and potential subscribers to interact with service representatives through phone, email, virtual chat and social platforms at all times, which Smith said will result in an overall superior customer service experience and faster responses.

"One of our key values at Hulu is putting the viewer first, and vital to that is crafting and delivering an extraordinary customer experience," Smith said. "In addition to building a great product, we're building an infrastructure that allows us to provide the most personal, responsive and knowledgeable customer support for our viewers."

Following are comments from local and state leaders about Hulu's announcement:

"In Texas, our mission is to set the stage for growing industries with a business-friendly policy approach which allows for creativity and technology to thrive," said Gov. Greg Abbott. "With the opening of Hulu's new viewer experience operations headquarters, Texas not only benefits from the addition of new jobs, but also the confidence that fast-growing companies bring with them when they select the Lone Star State as the best place for their investments. I proudly welcome Hulu's viewer experience operations headquarters to Texas and look forward to their tremendous success in San Antonio."

"When our team visited Los Angeles a few weeks ago, this is exactly the outcome we were working toward, and I'm so excited that Hulu has selected San Antonio for its next major investment, keeping these jobs in the U.S.," said Mayor Ivy Taylor. "As a leader in the tech industry, Hulu's decision to grow here is a testament to our City's growing tech industry and our skilled and talented workforce, which were both heavily emphasized during our visit with the company's leadership."

"Hulu's decision to place a new Viewer Experience Operations Headquarters in Bexar County is indicative of our community's commitment to economic innovation," Wolff said. "Hulu will be able to utilize the Bexar County workforce to help continue to stream premium content to its millions of viewers."


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