I write often about how Austin differs economically from many other metro areas during these difficult times. Two articles on the from the the Austin American-Statesman’s Business section today prompt me to return to that theme again:
Just last week, there was a closely related story:
These articles discuss three sides of an important trend: (a) a major investment in a residential subdivision (Blackhawk), (b) a significant investment in the local office market (Aspen Lake), and (c) continuing local job growth (Samsung).
In addition, I wrote yesterday about huge growth in the number of building permits issued for new residential rental units (Austin Building Permits and New Construction). As I commented in that post, Austin’s strength is based on its ability to attract company relocations and to foster expansion of local employers. One other item from today’s Statesman supports that point:
That short piece highlights three news items: (a) plans by State Farm Insurance to consolidate back-office operations in Austin, (b) a start-up company in an important high tech space garnering a new investment of $2 million venture capital, and (c) the City Of Austin hosting a “resource fair” to support local small business owners.
This focus on attracting economic development to Austin and Central Texas began many years ago, and positioned the Metro area to benefit from the dot-com boom in the late 1990s (and to the negatives of the dot-com bust in 2000-2001). The Greater Austin Chamber Of Commerce commented this week on an important result of that effort — our ability to weather the current recession:
Job growth in recent months in the Austin area has been moderate compared to other cities in Texas and elsewhere, but the Chamber points out, “Since we know Austin went into the recession later, emerged earlier, and lost fewer jobs than most other major metros, it may be helpful to put this month’s performance ranking in perspective by also looking at where Austin and these metros are currently vis-à-vis peak pre-recession employment,” and notes that among the Top 15 best performing metro areas, Austin has the smallest difference now compared to pre-recession peak employment:
And we still enjoy one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country:
Obviously, every city has its challenges these days, but there is no place I would rather be than Austin!