Austin: Top 5 High-Tech Market

Scott Francis
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ABJ reports that the Jones Lang LaSalle High-technology Office Outlook lists Austin in the top 5 for high-tech markets.

The report U.S. metropolitan areas based on high-tech growth, high-tech wage growth, high-tech services concentration, share of U.S. venture capital funding, intellectual capital, innovation and market dynamism.

The Austin area was given a weighted score of 58.5. Topping the list was San Francisco with a rating of 84.6, followed by Seattle-Bellevue (71.4), Silicon Valley (70.6) and New York (58.7).

I guess at this point no one is surprised when Austin does well on these economic lists.  Judging by the number of cranes still in operation in our city, the boom times continue for some time to come.  It feels like we’re still catching up with demand for people being downtown.  That increased density of living and working souls downtown is going to put pressure on Austin to come up with transportation options that make more sense in a denser urban environment.

Cue the light rail debate in Austin, and the vote coming in November.  It is a fascinating issue, and the critics have a mountain of financial data on their side.  And yet, there’s a mountain of economic benefit data on the pro-rail side.  But I take a broader point of view on transit in a growing community like Austin.

Here’s what we know.  Austin is going to double in population over the next 20 years (or less).  It has the last 20 years, and the 20 years before that.  The question is, what kind of city do we want Austin to be in 20 years?  What kind of city do we want Austin to be at 3 million or 5 million residents?  If we want that to be the kind of city that has trains that get people from the ‘burbs to the city center, or street cars that run conveniently along major downtown corridors to transport between condos and offices… then let’s get started.  I want Austin to invest in the Austin we want to be, and embrace the positive side of growth.  Hoping that the growth won’t happen, or that more roads will solve the problem, isn’t the answer based on my travels to cities like Houston and San Francisco.  Transit isn’t the only answer – Austin is early to car sharing via Cars2go and ZipCar, and bicycle access.

Once you decide what kind of city we want to be, then you figure out how to pay for it.  And that’s where all the gnashing of teeth happens!  But that is an easier problem to solve now than in 20 years- and easier to solve in an era of growth rather than stagnation.

 

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