The ATX

Austin Economy/Culture/Growth/Whatever

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Here's a good example of how important SXSW has become to Austin.  In an effort to promote their city, Washington DC is spending half a million dollars and renting a downtown restaurant for a music venue and renaming it "WeDC" during the festival.

 

http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/capitalcomment/local-news/dc-sxsw-party-house-no-fugazi-reunion-though.php

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The local implications are unknown at this time, but Netherlands based NXP Semiconductor is buying Austin based Freescale Semiconductor.  The computer chip business is a big part of Austin's economy.  (That's my line of work.)  Until this news broke Samsung, which has a multi-billion dollar Austin factory and campus, was thought to be the front runner in any deal involving Freescale.  This is a big merger because Freescale is/was a Fortune 500 company. (I don't know if it still is.) 

 

New York Times article:  

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/02/business/chip-makers-will-merge-in-deal-worth-11-8-billion.html

Edited by The ATX
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That's great news. The Freescale buyout could create more jobs for the area.

Edited by JoninATX

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That's great news. The Freescale buyout could create more jobs for the area.

I'm of the opinion that this is not a good thing in terms of jobs.  The merged company will still be run out of NXP's headquarters which means much of Freescale's management, financial and general Admin staff will eventually be let go.  I also don't see NXP keeping the fab and manufacturing here long term.  Currently Freescale is one of Austin's largest employers with around 5,000 workers.  But I expect most of them to be gone over the next few years.  There is a lot of chip design and software development talent in Austin, and I expect NXP to keep a fair amount of people here for that.  But fortunately Austin's job growth is so strong that losing 4,000 or more jobs over the course of a few years will make no noticeable impact.  There are 4,000 jobs created here every month. 

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The ABJ is reporting that Amazon is opening an Austin office that will create 250 Tech/IT jobs.  Two-hundred and fifty jobs is not a big news story here, but the fact that it's a high profile company is.  Their offices will be in the Domain.  

The Domain is an interesting story in itself.  It's arguably the single most intensely developed mixed use project outside of Downtown in Austin's history.  In fact one of the developers described it as "Austin's second Downtown."  That was pure marketing crap, but it's an impressive development anyway.  It used to be a large IBM industrial site that had operations for several divisions of IBM.  I worked for IBM at this location for 12 years.  IBM sold off the site to developers after the manufacturing operations moved overseas and IBM moved the rest of its Austin workforce in to a large ~6 building office park across the street.

 

Austin Business Journal article:  

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/techflash/2014/11/report-amazon-plans-big-austin-office.html

 

My dad worked at IBM from 1967 till 1997 or so.  He was forced into retirement when they moved his operation to Minnesota.  I'm so glad he was able to retire instead of move us up there.  A lot of guys got screwed on that deal.  Relocated families to Minnesota only to have it all closed down a year or two later.

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I'm of the opinion that this is not a good thing in terms of jobs. The merged company will still be run out of NXP's headquarters which means much of Freescale's management, financial and general Admin staff will eventually be let go. I also don't see NXP keeping the fab and manufacturing here long term. Currently Freescale is one of Austin's largest employers with around 5,000 workers. But I expect most of them to be gone over the next few years. There is a lot of chip design and software development talent in Austin, and I expect NXP to keep a fair amount of people here for that. But fortunately Austin's job growth is so strong that losing 4,000 or more jobs over the course of a few years will make no noticeable impact. There are 4,000 jobs created here every month.

That sucks, but atleast like you said other jobs are created. Edited by JoninATX

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My dad worked at IBM from 1967 till 1997 or so.  He was forced into retirement when they moved his operation to Minnesota.  I'm so glad he was able to retire instead of move us up there.  A lot of guys got screwed on that deal.  Relocated families to Minnesota only to have it all closed down a year or two later.

Welcome to UP!  I'm one of the many IBMers who transferred to Minnesota and plotted to get back to Austin as soon as possible.  The fact that IBM sold the facility to Celestica who later closed it was a blessing.  There were two good things about living in Minnesota IMO, spending (summer) weekends in Minneapolis and along the North Shore of Lake Superior. But my God, the weather in Minnesota is horrendous.  I'll take the heat of the Southwest over Upper Midwest winters any time.  

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Texas has always seemed like a smaller version of Australia to me.  A desert to the west and large vibrant cities to the east are just a couple of the reasons. Now here's a news story about a kangaroo that has been hopping around this week just north of the Austin Metro:  

 

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local/kangaroo-on-the-loose-near-salado/nkQJX/

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This is only 100 jobs, but it's at Seaholm which makes it newsworthy.  Under Armour is one of the tenants in the low rise office/retail portion of the project and they are hiring for 100 tech positions.

 

ABJ article:  http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/techflash/2015/03/underarmour-hiring-for-new-tech-focused.html

 

Their new Seaholm offices from the article link:    

underarmour-slideshow-2659*600.jpg

underarmour-slideshow-2669*600.jpg

underarmour-slideshow-2672*600.jpg

underarmour-slideshow-2663*600.jpg

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There were a couple of decent economic developments this past week.  The first one was that Visa is hiring 500 engineers at their Austin operations to work on their mobile/digital payment system:  

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/techflash/2015/03/visa-to-hire-500-in-austin-report-says.html 

 

 

The second piece of news is that Apple purchased a four building office park next to their expanding campus.  (Apple's campus is near Visa's Austin operations.)  Apple is currently in the process of increasing their local employment to 7.1K upon build out of their U/C campus.  They currently employee 4-5K in the completed buildings on their campus.  It's not clear if this new office park purchase will increase their Austin workforce above the 7.1K or not.  Either way Apple seems poised to become Austin's second largest private employer.  Dell of course is number 1. 

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/business/apple-buys-four-building-office-complex-in-northwe/nkbjp/?icmp=statesman_internallink_invitationbox_apr2013_statesmanstubtomystatesmanpremium#9c8d17f6.3948020.735680 

Edited by The ATX

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From today's print edition of the Austin American-Statesman.  The fastest growing large cities (1 million or more metro population) between 2010 and 2014 from today's census release.

 

2014%20Big%20City%20Population%20Leaders

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ESPN is starting to announce their plans for the 2016 Summer X Games taking place here in two months.  The links below to two Austin American-Statesman articles have some details about the specific events and the X Games in general.  One thing I found amusing was that after last year they decided that they need more shade and water dispensing areas this year.  Duh, it's always ridiculous hot here for much of the year, and I can't understand how that got overlooked last year.  ESPN also concluded that music is just as big of a draw at the games in Austin as the games themselves, so they are making it more of a music festival and a sporting event instead of just a sporting event.

 

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/sports/x-games-switching-gears-to-battle-austin-heat-wind/nkjkM/#ea9ad28f.3948020.735691

 

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/sports/austin-x-games-sports-lineup-events-revealed/nkk96/?icmp=statesman_internallink_invitationbox_apr2013_statesmanstubtomystatesmanpremium#191699bf.3948020.735691

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Despite their competition in the smart phone market, Apple awarded Samsung a huge contract as the supplier for the main chip in the next generation iPhone.  Apple and Samsung are two of Austin's biggest private employers, and it's not clear if this will create any additional jobs in their already expanding local campuses.  Samsung has $15 billion invested in it's Austin operations, and it is one of the biggest chip manufacturing complexes in the U.S.  I don't know if this still holds true or not, but at one point Samsung's factory(s) was the single biggest factory investment ever made in the U.S.      

 

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/business/report-samsung-wins-apple-chip-orders-for-iphone/nkmpM/

Edited by The ATX

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Anyone familiar with Austin knows there is a lot of hotel construction.  This article highlights the cities with the most development.  Here's a quote from the article:

 

While New York City has the most construction going on today by a very wide margin, it’s actually number two in terms of rooms being built per existing inventory. J.P. Ford, a senior vice president of business development with the Portsmouth, N.H.-based Lodging Econometrics, says Austin, Texas has the most development per existing inventory at 29.1 percent, with 61 projects and 9,057 rooms. New York City is at 28.5 percent, with 188 hotels in the construction pipeline. Miami is at 23.9 percent, with 64 projects and 12,036 rooms underway.

 

The article:  http://nreionline.com/hotel/demographics-high-entry-barriers-support-hotel-growth-us-cities

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The links below are for Austin Business Journal and Austin American-Statesman articles on Austin's latest unemployment rate.  The takeaway from the articles is that Austin is close to having a labor shortage as the unemployment rate dropped to 3% in April which is the lowest number since the peak of the Dot Com era in January 2001.  It's amazing that the unemployment rate continues to go lower considering thousands of newcomers continue to arrive every month.  In April alone another 9,500 jobs were created in the Austin area.  There were 1,200 in the Tech sector, 1,100 in construction and 3,400 in hospitality.  Tourism is booming, and the hospitality numbers will continue to increase as construction wraps up on several major hotels that will be hiring soon.  Even the largest local private employer - Dell - announced they were hiring 200 people last week.  Dell hasn't been a source of local job creation in quite awhile.

 

ABJ:  

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2015/05/22/tech-hiring-pushes-austin-jobless-rate-to-lowest.html    

 

Statesman:  

http://www.statesman.com/news/business/austin-unemployment-rate-hits-lowest-point-since-j/nmMKF/

Edited by The ATX
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INSANE!!  COMPLETE polar OPPOSITE from the years of drought in that area!!  Saw on National news the Bastrop Lake Dam fails SE of the Austin area? Lake Travis went up a lot.... but still well below normal....

 

& now Houston is a big MESS! 

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INSANE!!  COMPLETE polar OPPOSITE from the years of drought in that area!!  Saw on National news the Bastrop Lake Dam fails SE of the Austin area? Lake Travis went up a lot.... but still well below normal....

 

& now Houston is a big MESS! 

I live in Hays Co. near the Blanco River where the worse flooding occurred, and 12 people are still missing from Saturday's storms.  Today I had a funnel cloud pass by my house, but fortunately it didn't touch down. Our droughts invariably end with massive rain events.  Lake Travis (Austin's main water supply impoundment) went up 12 feet in less than 24 hours.  But it still isn't even half full because of years of drought. 

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Most everyone on forums like Urban Planet have already seen the recently released 2014 city population estimates by now, but here's a graph showing the fastest growing large cities (500,000 or more population) between 2010 and 2014:  

2010-2014%20Fastest%20Growing%20Big%20Ci

 

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/21/interactive-texas-population-growth-2010-2014/

 

 

 

Here's another chart showing the 10 fastest growing cities (50,000 or population) in Texas from 2010-2014.  These are of course, largely the fastest growing cities in the U.S. as well.  Half of them, numbers 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8, are in the Austin Metro.  

2010-2014%20Fastest%20Growing%20Texas%20

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/21/interactive-texas-population-growth-2010-2014/

Edited by The ATX

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Here's a scene along the Blanco River in Hays County that is all too common with 400 homes destroyed and 1,000 damaged.  San Marcos and Wimberly are hardest hit.  San Marcos has been the fastest growing city in the U.S. for three years in a row.  Sadly, it looks like the death toll in Hays County could reach at least 13.

11351201_973300489376526_917920939918960

https://www.facebook.com/MyStatesman/photos/a.790475904325653.1073741828.547328681973711/973300489376526/?type=1&theater

 

 

The family that lived here are among the missing:  

rgz-carey-family-home-002.jpg

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local/family-gathering-turns-grim-as-flood-sweeps-house-/nmNfW/#913f6b23.3948020.735744

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