Business

KUT News

You know those property tax breaks that Austin uses to lure companies like Apple and Visa to town? A Washington, D.C., group says the city is doing a pretty good job of letting us know how those deals pan out.

The nonprofit research center Good Jobs First gave Austin’s program 100 out of 100 for disclosing annual activity online and for providing third-party audits of each company receiving taxpayer incentives. 

Financial advisor S. Mark Powell ran the Austin office of money management firm Atlantic Trust until his death on May 16.

Powell's body was found in a cemetery in Mason County, where the cause of death has not been determined.  Sheriff Buster Nixon says that a final ruling will be made after toxicology tests come back, but that "everything (he's) seen is consistent with a self-inflicted wound."

Mark Dewey

Windmill farms that generate electric power are now a familiar site across west Texas. But before the giant turbines took over, their little cousins ruled the plains. Small windmills pumped water to settlers, pioneers, and ranchers in the Lone Star state. The biggest windmill company, Aermotor, started in Chicago in the 1800s, and now pumps out windmills from its San Angelo headquarters and factory.

Chris Haston/NBC

Last Thursday, 5.4 million fans watched the series finale of NBC’s Emmy-winning comedy “The Office.” Who knew that one of those fans was Mayor Lee Leffingwell – and that he would take the finale’s Austin-centric ending so seriously?

The longrunning series ended with Athlead – a fictional sports promotions company lead by John Krasinski’s character Jim Halpert – was moving business to Austin. This revelation earned a humorous backing from Mayor Leffingwell. He released a statement on his Facebook page giving a thumbs up to Austin’s latest corporate relocation.

The news that broke Sunday is now official.

Yahoo confirmed early Monday morning that it is buying Tumblr in a deal worth about $1.1 billion. "Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business," Yahoo added.

In its statement announcing the deal, Yahoo says that:

Andrew Weber for KUT News

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is looking to sell Austin abroad.

Yesterday, the chamber and the State Department invited 26 ambassadors from around the world joined top tech companies like Google, Apple, Samsung and AT&T at the Driskill Hotel, in a tour aimed at bringing more international businesses to Austin.

Update at 7:00 p.m.:

The Senate has passed the Marketplace Fairness Act by a vote of 69 to 27, The Associated Press reports.

Here's our original post:

The Senate is expected to approve a measure on Monday that would end tax-free shopping for online purchases, a move that concerns many e-retailers but has the support of the states that stand to collect billions in previously lost revenues.

flickr.com/dingatx

If you asked the Internet, it might tell you that Austin's a hipster-loving, small business-starting, traffic-riddled, undiscovered yet overrated place that keeps it weird. The web's traffic-baiting list-makers rank Austin as a leader in categories from fitness friendliness to porn consumption per capita.

But you're not asking the Internet, you're asking KUT News. And, as has been done a couple times now, KUT News has compiled a list of lists honoring, tweaking and trashing Austin over the past few months. Here's the third installment of The Top 10 Austin Top 10 Lists:

  • Big time for small business: Business website Thumbtack.com saluted Austin for business-friendly regulations and low licensing fees, ranking the city tops in the U.S. for small businesses. But the crowning stems partially from the state’s spartan regulation, as the survey also named Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio in its top 10.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is trying to convince more businesses to move to Texas. Now he’s targeting Illinois with aggressive print ads comparing the business climate in that state to a “burning building on the verge of collapse.”

Today, Perry also launched a 30-second radio ad on four stations in Chicago.

The U.S. Postal Service has backed off a plan to halt Saturday mail delivery, saying that Congress has forced it to continue the service despite massive cost overruns.

In a statement released Wednesday, the USPS Board of Governors said restrictive language included in the latest Continuing Resolution, which keeps the government operating until September in lieu of a budget, prevents it from going ahead with the plan.

KUT News

Update: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz says he's not giving up his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Cruz spoke at a sold out luncheon hosted by the Austin Chamber of Commerce Friday. Topics ranged from  healthcare reform and the economy to Cruz's cowboy boots and reputation as a "bomb thrower."

Cruz deflected the question about his "bomb throwing" reputation and instead touted his ability to follow through on campaign promises and get things done in Washington. 

twitter.com/RunTex

RunTex is losing its prime store location on Riverside Drive and South First Street. The Austin-American Statesman reports the company is being evicted because they didn’t pay the $20,000/month rent. But there’s also the fact that the location is reportedly set to become a mixed-use development.

As far as criticism of his business decisions go, RunTex owner Paul Carrozza told KUT News he’s learned a “valuable lesson and an expensive lesson around expansion and what it takes to go from one store to five stores.”

Looking forward, Carrozza says RunTex will continue its commitment to fitness and creating a healthier Austin. He says that may mean that retail sales become less of a priority.

S&P 500 Closes at All Time High

Mar 28, 2013

The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index broke new ground today, closing at 1,569, an all-time high that erased the record set on Oct. 9, 2007.

The S&P joins the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which broke its 2007 record earlier this month.

Both indices have now recovered all the losses they suffered during the Great Recession.

The U.S. economy grew at a 0.4 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2012, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning.

For the past month, management at Carnival Cruise Lines has been in a nearly constant state of damage control.

In the past week alone, three of the cruise line's giant floating playgrounds have experienced embarrassing malfunctions that have at least inconvenienced, if not angered, many passengers.

There were 198,000 jobs added to private employers' payrolls in February, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report — a privately produced snapshot of the employment picture that's sometimes a signal of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics will say when it releases its data from the same month.

Update at 4:09 p.m. ET. A New Record:

The Dow Industrials finished in record territory today. Gaining 89 points, it closed at 14,253.77, its highest level since Oct. 9,2007.

That is, the Dow has recovered all the losses it suffered during the Great Recession.

courtesy flickr.com/adav

If you’re going to the grocery store or planning a quick stop at the convenience store today, you’ll need to bring your own bag. Most businesses within the Austin city limits will have to abide by a new rule that prohibits them from providing paper or plastic single-use bags to customers.

While it will take getting used to, the switch to reusables that goes into effect today is good news to some Austinites.

Longtime environmentalists celebrated the end of an era with a party at Cherrywood Coffeehouse in Austin this week. Featured artist Bill Oliver pushed for a bag ban for decades.

courtesy Port of Houston

The deputy head of mission of the British Embassy is in Austin this week trying to raise support for a free-trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union.

At the Texas Capitol today, the official, Phillip Barton, said he and the United Kingdom want to make sure the deal is as comprehensive as possible.

Maybe you don't like your mobile phone carrier, but you like your phone and you want to keep it but change providers. An obscure change in federal law makes it illegal to switch without permission from your carrier.

If you have, for example, AT&T, in order to switch to T-Mobile you have to unlock the phone, and AT&T can now stop you from doing that.

The change in the copyright law has some people upset, and they're petitioning the White House for a fix.

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