Austin: We're Doing All Right
Economic BackdropLast week I attended the Angelou Economics Annual Forecast in Austin. I’ve attended for the last few years and found it to be immensely useful for improving our understanding of the Austin economy and how the national and international economies can affect us here at home. This year, Angelou had some good numbers to share about last year’s US economy:
- 1.5 Million new jobs
- 8.3% unemployment (down considerably from 10%+)
- 16% increase in exports
- 22% increase in Venture Capital
- 8% increase in retail sales
- 3.4% increase in housing starts
- 90,000 new businesses
Austin is DifferentAngelou said something in particular that got my attention- that Austin is FUN in a way that you don’t really expect it to be. That we have 1.7 million salespeople. As he put it – Austinites are unabashed – and really shameless in their booster-ism for Austin. Austinites love this place: “This isn’t fake, it is natural, and shameless.” He pointed out a journalist from Delta’s in-flight magazine, who was in attendance doing research for a story on Austin, and said, paraphrasing: “you know, I’ll be very disappointed if, after you finish your research here, you don’t pack your bags and move to Austin immediately.” Great laughs from the room – but it had a ring of truth to it. There are really three big draw events for tourism in Austin in 2012, besides the normal reasons to visit (BBQ, TexMex, and Live Music):
- SXSW, and in particular, SXSW-interactive (projected to grow 25% this year) and draw tens of thousands of visitors
- ACL – again, a huge number of fans descend on Austin in the fall.
- Formula 1 race – for the first time in November 2012. 135,000 projected attendees.