Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Montgomery County on sidelines again as Indian software firm Zoho chooses Texas

Indian software firm Zoho has completed a nationwide search for the location of its new U.S. headquarters, and the winner is Austin, Texas, not Montgomery County. As is the case more often than not, there's no public indication that Montgomery even made any effort to recruit the company, much less mount a competitive bid. Zoho currently has a small customer service office in Austin with 60 employees, but when they relocate their current California U.S. HQ to Texas, they will ultimately host 500 jobs in a new, 100,000 SF office building, the Austin American-Statesman reported early this morning.
New interchange TXDOT
is building by the future site
of the Zoho HQ, one of
four to eliminate signaled
intersections and reduce congestion
Best of all, Austin didn't even have to put together an expensive package of giveaways to win the HQ. Zoho cited its employees' growing frustration with traffic congestion and expensive housing costs in California in its choice of Austin as an improvement. In researching the site of their new Austin HQ, I noticed they chose land on SH 71, which the Texas Department of Transportation says "serves as a major corridor for motorists traveling to and from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport." While Montgomery County's elected officials are actively fighting any attempt to increase highway capacity here, TXDOT has a whopping four projects to reduce congestion on SH 71 alone.
Google Maps shows how close the
Zoho HQ site will be to
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport,
a quick 7-minute drive
How important are highway access and infrastructure to economic development? They are critical. According to Google Maps, the site chosen by Zoho at SH 71 and Kellam Road is only 7 minutes from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The need for easy airport access for an international firm like Zoho could not be provided in Montgomery County, thanks to the County Council blocking construction of the planned new Potomac River crossing to Dulles Airport. Heckuva job, Brownie!

A quick search finds flights from Austin-Bergstrom to a whopping 40 cities in India, including New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. Imagine how significant that 7-minute access is for this India-based company, and its executives and sales team.

The Texas newspaper also reported that analysts see the Zoho decision as having benefits beyond the 500 jobs - and collateral economic activity and revenue - the HQ will generate. Because Zoho is an Indian firm and has offices around the world, Austin economist Angelos Angelou told the paper, “it could lead to the attraction of additional companies because now in the eyes of other Indian companies, Austin will be on their radar screen.” Who are some of Zoho's customers? Amazon, Uber, Facebook and Netflix.

While Austin celebrates another economic development victory, Montgomery County has only received more bad news on that front this week. Not only did County officials tell our super-low-energy County Council that MoCo's failing taxpayer-subsidized business incubators are hemorrhaging $1 million a year, but the short-lived CEO of the County's economic development company announced Monday he is quitting...to move to Texas. Smart man, obviously. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." You can't make this stuff up, folks.

With the "new" County Council having taken no action on highway congestion or the economic development crisis in Montgomery County after over four months in office, and their plan to hike both County employees' salaries and your property taxes bigly, could Democrat David Blair be looking at a 2022 encore run for County Executive? He lost the 2018 Democratic primary by only 77 votes, and the only other local pol not-so quietly planning to run is failed Councilman Hans Riemer, Riemer is not only literally the least-popular Council member in Montgomery County based on voting results, but is infamous for tanking the County's nighttime economy with his disastrous Nighttime Economy initiative.

Will Montgomery County business leaders (and voters) finally take the advice of Bob Ehrlich they so far have rejected: "Get dangerous," and elect a few Republicans to the Council? Or will they just keep slouching towards Gomorrah?


  1. More ammo for you anti-Hans diatribe. You think that every business that is looking to locate or relocate anywhere in the U.S. should choose MoCo just because. You would make just as successful a business man as the not so great dotard. Many factors go into location, and since they choose Austin, my main guess is the college-age population located within the region. That gives them an extremely large pool of talented, inexpensive applicants to hire from. They didn't even choose northern Virginia, yet you blast the county for failing to take this firm hostage. GET REAL!

    1. 9:36: There are plenty of young tech professionals in this area. It's folks who just want to manage the decline of Montgomery County while enriching themselves at taxpayer expense who need to "Get real!"