Business

Business
11:01 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Apple Buys Land for Austin Operations Center

Apple's current operations center in Austin.
flickr.com/beleaveme

Computing giant Apple has acquired land to house its Americas Operations Center.

The Austin Business Journal reports Apple purchased three plots of land in Northwest Austin late last month:

Records at the Travis County Clerk’s Office show that McShane Development Co. LLC, through its Riata Vista LP entity, sold three tracts of land to Apple on June 21. The exhibits indicate that the land is in the Milwood Section 20 subdivision near Parmer Lane and Delcour Drive.

Apple’s opening of an operations center in Texas was assisted by numerous grants and tax abatements: a $21 million grant from the state, via Governor Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund; approximately $8.6 million in abatements from the City of Austin, and approximately  $6.4 million from the county.

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Business
9:49 am
Thu July 19, 2012

TABC Trying to Speed Up Alcohol Licensing

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Committee is trying to streamline the permit process for alcohol sales.
Caleb Miller for KUT News

The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures met Wednesday to take a look at streamlining the alcoholic licensing and permitting process.

According to the Texas Tribune, interim Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) director Sherry Cooke told the committee that her agency wants to consolidate the processes for beer and liquor licenses.

The issue is that there are two separate processes for receiving a beer license and liquor licenses. Some of the applications for those permits can be processed through TABC, but others have to involve county courts.

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Business
5:30 am
Wed July 18, 2012

High Demand For Foreign Skilled Workers in Austin

Texas Tribune

Austin had the twelfth highest number of H-1B visa requests per capita in the last two years, according to a report issued this morning by the Brookings Institution, signaling a high demand for employees in technology and engineering. H-1B visas are temporary work permits, up to six years in length, issued to foreigners who work in specialized occupations.

Employers in Austin made 3,087 H-1B visa requests in 2010 and 2011, the report says, a rate of 3.9 applications per 1,000 workers. More than half of those requests were for computer related occupations. About 17 percent were for engineering jobs.

Most of the H-1B visa requests came from technology firms such as Dell, Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, and Freescale Semiconductor. The report did not examine how many of those permits were actually granted.

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Economy
4:47 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Sales Tax Collections Leap in June

Texas sales tax saw a 15 percent boost in June over last year.

Almost two billion dollars in Texas sales taxes were collected in June – some 15 percent more than the state collected in June last year.

Austin's share of sales taxes comes to about $12.5 million in revenue, which is up more than 10 percent from the same time last year.

"Sales tax revenue has increased for 27 consecutive months in Texas,” Comptroller Susan Combs says in a statement. “Strong business spending in industries such as manufacturing and oil and natural gas boosted the latest sales tax collections. Revenue from consumer spending in the retail trade and restaurant sectors also did well."

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Business
11:50 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Austin DirecTV Customers May Lose Viacom Channels

DirecTV customers may lose some 17 Viacom channels tomorrow, unless the companies reach an agreement.
Photo courtesy of flickr.com/kevint via Creative Commons

Certain DirecTV channels may go off the air at midnight as the company’s contract with Viacom expires.

The current state of negotiations between the companies indicates those channels — which include Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV — will go black for DirecTV subscribers at that time.

In a blog post, Viacom says that talks "have reached an impasse" and that it deserves higher fees, while DirecTV says the company is looking for an increase of more than 30 percent.

Viacom says that DirecTV is offering to pay less than “any other distributor in the industry.”

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Economy
8:38 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Charts: How Unemployment Has Dragged On

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 10:06 pm

Losing your job is rarely good. Not being able to find one for months can be disastrous for individuals, and bad for society as well. Yet during the recent recession and the current anemic recovery, more people in the U.S. have been unemployed for longer than at any time since 1948.

Of all Americans who were unemployed in June, almost half had been without a job for 27 weeks or longer. In other words, 5.4 million people have been jobless for more than half a year.

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Business
11:04 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Mid-Week Holiday Hurts Worker Productivity

Wednesday's Fourth of July holiday may cause the rest of the week to fizzle, productivity-wise.
flickr.com/rampant.gaffer

Firing up the grill? Don’t expect to be fired up at work.

With this year's Fourth of July holiday falling on a Wednesday, many workers are taking vacations in addition to the mid-week day off. Though summer vacations are commonplace, the quantity of workers taking off at the same time could spell trouble for some companies.

But John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told KUHF that not all companies will be hurt.

“For a busy company, there’s just the risk that they can’t produce the same amount worker-hours they need to provide a high quality service or product," he said. "For companies that are in a slowdown, it’s probably not a bad idea to get their vacations loaded up at the same time.”

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Business
9:53 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Free Trade Ruling Could Nix Country-of-Origin Labels on Meat

Do you know where your beef comes from?
JelleS Flickr.com

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 9:33 am

If you want to know where your meat came from, you won't be happy with the World Trade Organization right now. Late last week, the WTO announced that the United States' country-of-origin labels, which took effect in 2008, discriminate unfairly against foreign meat suppliers such as Mexico and Canada.

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Economy
3:30 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Austin Area Home Prices Keep Rising

Home prices grew almost six percent in the Austin area over last year.
KUT News

Home prices have again increased in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area.

Prices rose 5.7 percent since last May, and 2.3 percent since last month, according to a home prices index released by a real estate data company.

Amand Nallathambi is the president of CoreLogic, the company that released the report.  "The recent upward trend in U.S. home prices is an encouraging signal that we may be seeing a bottoming of the housing down cycle," he says in a press release. "Tighter inventory is contributing to broad, but modest, price gains nationwide and more significant gains in the harder-hit markets, like Phoenix."

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Business
1:58 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

It’s a Jungle: While Amazon Charges Sales Tax, Not All Sellers Are

Not all third-party sellers are charging sales tax on Amazon.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Online retail giant Amazon.com began charging Texas sales tax this weekend. But that doesn’t mean everything you buy through the site will be taxed.

While most products on Amazon are sold by, well, Amazon, Wikipedia notes that as of 2007, the site had over 1.3 million third-party sellers and associates. And Amazon says it’s up to those sellers to determine whether they need to charge the tax.

“Third party sellers that use our platform must determine their tax collection requirements based on their individual circumstances,” Amazon Corporate Communications spokesperson Scott Stanzel tells KUT News.

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Business
10:39 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Dell Buying Quest Software for $2.4 Billion

KUT News

Round Rock-based computing company Dell announced a deal to purchase Quest Software for $2.4 billion today.

Founded in 1987, Quest Software offers IT management solutions to corporate clients, including database management, data protection, performance monitoring and more.

The move comes as Dell seeks to expand beyond its original model of personal computer sales. 

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Business
4:43 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Amazon Sales Tax Charges Texas

Amazon will begin charging sales tax this Sunday.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

In less than 48 hours, online retailer Amazon.com will start charging Texas sales tax on products you buy from its site.

Texas will become only the sixth state to charge sales tax on Amazon purchases. The switch comes after an agreement was made between the Texas Comptroller’s office and the online retailer. In 2010, the comptroller’s office claimed Amazon owed the state $269 million in uncollected sales tax. Under the new agreement, Amazon will create at least 2,500 jobs  in the state and will also bring at least $200 million in capital investment. 

For many brick-and-mortar operations the move will level the playing field. Jason Brewer is with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a national trade group.

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Business
4:37 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Franchisors Help Vets Get Down to Business

Steve Dixon, vice-president of Texas Children’s Lighthouse Learning Center, speaking this morning.
Chip Skambis

Austin military veterans and Texas-based entrepreneurs have launched an online portal to connect vets and their spouses to openings in franchise employment and ownership.

The initiative aims to help improve the high unemployment rate among veterans, which has reached 7.2% in Texas.

The Texas Children’s Lighthouse Learning Centerand The Dwyer Groupannounced their support and collaboration with the International Franchise Association in creating The Veterans Franchise (VetFran) Toolkit.

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Business
10:03 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Whole Foods Opens in South Austin

Employees literally broke bread at a Whole Foods opening this morning.
Mike Martinez, facebook.com/ElGalloMike

A new Whole Foods opened in South Austin this morning, the second location of the Austin-based chain to open within the region in as many months.

The original Whole Foods market opened in Austin in 1980 with a staff of only 19 employees.  Today its Austin locations number four, out of 310 locations internationally.

The store will reflect the “laid back, at home feel of the South Austin community” store team leader Steph Steele said in a statement. The store aims to provide “an intimate community grocery store experience,” Steele added – a seeming contrast to Whole Foods' bustling flagship location downtown (now complete with  self-driven shopping carts).

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Economy
11:03 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Younger, Less Educated Take Hit in Recession

Increased education is associated with fewer losses from the Great Recession, according to census data.
flickr.com/maysbusinessschool

New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show the effects of a down economy: median household net worth declined by 35 percent between 2005 and 2010. That’s a loss of over $36,000, falling from $102,844 to $66,740.

”The overall decline in net worth reflects drops in housing values and stock market indices,” Census Bureau economist Alfred Gottschalck says in a statement.

While the households of people over 65 lost more money over the period, people under 35 lost a much greater percentage of net worth. Similarly, while groups at all levels of education also experienced declines, education provided a degree of economic insulation.

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Business
1:35 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Austin's Unemployment Rate Rises From April to May

Although Austin added jobs last month, May saw the biggest unemployment increase in nearly a year.

Austin’s unemployment rate went up last month.

It hit a three-year low in April of 5.5 percent, but grew last month to 5.8 percent.

According to the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board, that increase is the largest the Austin area has seen since June 2011 (6.7 percent in May 2011 to 7.6 percent in June 2011). 

“Going up three tenths of a percent – it’s never positive to go up, we’d love to see the continued decreases that we’ve seen over the last few years – but we still created 2,000 jobs in the month of May. So while it may not be the number that we’re hoping for, it’s definitely positive and we continue to encourage employers to look at new job opportunities locally,” said Tiffany Daniels, Communication Coordinator for Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board.

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Finance
8:14 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Credit Card Debt Cut: The Reason May Surprise You

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 6:17 pm

A Federal Reserve study showing that Americans lost wealth in the Great Recession turned up another, perhaps more surprising, result: Credit card debt fell sharply.

"The percentage of families using credit cards for borrowing dropped over the period; the median balance on their accounts fell 16.1 percent" between 2007 and 2010, the report concluded.

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Business
4:01 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Business Offers Shared Office Space, Childcare Under One Roof

Plug & Play offers supervised childcare along with "coworking" space for non-traditional workers.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

One problem many freelancers, the self-employed and would-be entrepreneurs face is the challenge of balancing child care and a productive work life.

When Amy Braden had her son three years ago, she struggled with the same issues until hitting upon a solution of her own: creating a “coworking” space that also offers child care.

“Our tagline is: Make your life work,” Braden said of her new work-life center, Plug & Play. “I thought that there had to be a better way for working parents with young children to enjoy their children while they’re young and also be committed to their careers.”

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Politics
10:07 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Obama: Congress Needs To Do More Than Talk About Jobs

President Obama during this morning's news conference at the White House.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 11:58 am

President Obama used the White House press briefing room this morning to again make the case that Congress — and in particular the Republican-controlled House — needs to take up more of his ideas about how to boost job growth.

He also said it's "offensive" to suggest "my White House" may have leaked some secrets to gain political advantage.

We updated with highlights, so hit your "refresh" button to be sure you're seeing our latest.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. Romney Says Obama Is 'Out Of Touch':

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Business
3:35 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Newest Downtown Tenant: A Tech Start-Up Space

Tech Partnership Chair and CEO Bryan Jones explains the new TechLive venture in the room Capital Factory will be using as its main office.
Photo by Robb Jacobson for KUT News

The 16th floor of the Omni Hotel will now be a shared workspace for start-up technology companies.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce announced the initiative today. They’re calling it Austin TechLive.

The facility will provide entrepreneurs with office, meeting and event space in exchange for monthly membership. And with over 4,000 tech companies responsible for over 100,000 jobs in the Austin area – and that number expected to grow by 5,000 jobs this year – the city's tech community is burgeoning. 

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