People around the nation – and around the world – are noticing Austin, and that’s no mistake: the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department provides programs and services that lead the growth of Austin’s key industries as well as the speed of doing business in Austin. While there’s no “secret sauce” to be found, the City has developed a multi-sector strategy that has put Austin on dozens of “best of” lists over the past few years.
If we had to distill that success down to one ingredient, it’s diversity. Austin’s economic development strategy complements traditional economic development with redevelopment, global business recruitment, small business development, music and cultural arts. This is a unique organizational model that has been the foundation for Austin’s opportunities and successes.
For Austin, successful economic resiliency is rooted in diversity. It’s based on the philosophy that the most compelling and innovative ideas arrive at the intersection of science, technology, manufacturing and the arts. We’re just as likely to pursue Robert Rodriguez’ El Rey Network as we are to pursue Apple’s latest expansion project. Likewise, we’re just as likely to craft creative financing for expansion of a local retailer as we are to craft a partnership with Formula One Racing. What might seem on the surface to be a disparate collection of initiatives is, in fact, a very intentional approach to attract talent, innovation, opportunity and jobs to the Austin market.
That work is paying off. Austin ranks at the top of many lists including Fastest Growing American City for the Fourth Year in a Row (Forbes 2014). The Austin economy also led the nation in percentage growth of gross metro product in 2013, and according to recent analysis by the U.S. Conference of Mayors released in June 2014, Austin is expected to hold onto the No. 1 ranking through 2020, with an average annual gross metro product growth of 4.4 percent.
For those attending this year’s Congress of Cities conference, the City of Austin Economic Development Department will lead mobile workshops on two catalytic redevelopment projects. The Mueller redevelopment and the Seaholm Power Plant redevelopment workshops will lead you through the nuts and bolts of how the department crafted public-private partnerships to create multimodal, sustainable and culturally vibrant communities.
You can learn more about our work at www.austintexas.gov/edd. Or you can just look for our Director Kevin Johns or Deputy Director Rodney Gonzales at the conference in November. Both are eager to share more information with you about the department’s award-winning programs and projects.
If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, be sure to do so by September 30th to get the early bird rate! We look forward to seeing you in Austin.
By Doug Matthews, City of Austin Public Information Office