THE WAY I REMEMBER IT
Following the arrival of IBM in Austin , Texas Instruments was one of our early hi-tech prospects. My Economic Development Manager and I were really glad to see them back in our sights. You see, several years prior to this time TI had a site selection team evaluating Austin . As usual, it was in a very confidential manner. I can’t remember how, but somehow, our Chamber Chairman found out TI was looking at Austin .
Well, he was eager to see good things happen during his year, and he knew one of the TI officials at their Headquarters in Dallas , so he gives him a call. Not a good thing to do. TI immediately stopped their investigation of Austin , and that ended that.
But now they were back, and having completed all the other preliminaries, were ready for the site selection phase.
We found a spot that met their criteria very well on North IH-35. We negotiated a price of $1700.00 per acre. Again something leaked, and a news reporter, who wrote a column on business happenings and surmisings, wrote that a "biggie high-tech company" was rumored to be looking for land in Austin .
The fine gentleman who owned the land that TI had selected decided that if this was a "biggie", they could pay more for his land--so he upped it by $1,000.00 per acre. The TI site selection people felt they were being gouged, and refused the land. But, TI had made many other plans for an Austin plant, so finding another suitable site quickly was imperative.
We immediately went to the owners of the first alternate site, and got them to agree to terms with the TI Site Selection Team. But final inspection and approval was needed from the head of the company, Mr. Johnson, (I believe). We normally were able to do this by helicopter (Usually arranged as a training flight by my friends at The Department of Public Safety). Mr. Johnson did not have time to come to Austin , get in the chopper, do the tour, get back in the plane...
But, he would take time to do a fly-by in his private jet, and asked that we mark the spot so that his pilot could find it. Since this was an undeveloped wooded area-- it was not an easy thing to do. John Gray, my Economic Development manager, decided that the best we could do would be to spread out a white bed sheet in the open area in the center of the site for the pilot to zero in on. So, the sheet was spread.
Exactly at the appointed time, here came a jet low and from the east heading right for the bed sheet. John waved frantically to make sure they spotted the sheet. A few minutes later, here came the jet from the south, probably at about 400 miles per hour. It crossed right over the sheet again.
We knew then that Mr. Johnson had done his site inspection. TI built its plant on U.S 183 N. on land now partially occupied by the Riata Development--an apartment/high tech development spearheaded by son Matt. Vic Mathias--July 29, 2005