Business

Business
3:24 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Survey Says Austin Tops for Small Business

Austin ranks well in a survey of small business owners in the service industry.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

Austin scored an A-plus in a survey of small business friendliness.

The capitol city ranks as the nation’s fourth friendliest city to small business, according to a survey by Thumbtack.com and the entrepreneurship-focused Kauffman Foundation.

The nationwide survey asked 6,000 of the small business owners registered with Thumbtack – a service which aggregates bids for hiring local help – questions about small business friendliness and finance in their city.

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Business
4:30 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Facebook Stock Falls Another 9 Percent

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 3:52 pm

Facebook's stock fell $3.07 to end the day at $28.84. That's first time it's fallen below $30 since the stock went public.

That price is also 24 percent below its opening price of $38.

The Wall Street Journal that the drop had to do with negative sentiment about the stock, as well as the fact that today traders were able to trade on derivatives.

The Facebook stock saw so much trading, the Journal reports, that it triggered Nasdaq's short sale circuit-breaker.

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food
12:22 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Development Pushes Out Another Food Trailer Court

Snap Kitchen is one of several food vendors that will have to leave this lot on June 10.
Photo courtesy of Snap Kitchen, snapkitchen.wordpress.com

Several food trailers downtown were told Tuesday night they have to move by June 10, to make way for a J.W. Marriott hotel that will be built there.

“It’s upsetting,” said Martin Berson, co-owner of Snap Kitchen, one of the food vendors on the site at Congress Avenue and Second Street. “My hope is that we’re not going to have to move out of downtown.” Berson says he’s been offered lots in north and south Austin, but is trying to find another spot downtown.   

Other food vendors at the site include Padika CoffeeKebabaliciousTurf ‘n’ Surf Poboys, and Chi’Lantro.

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Business
1:41 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

The Last Slice: Campus Gatti's Pizza Closing After 40 Years

This time next week the Gatti's Pizza buffet will be no more.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

After four decades in business, local pizza purveyor Gatti’s Pizza is closing its campus location on Martin Luther King Boulevard this Monday, May 28.

The location is currently Austin’s oldest continuously running pizza place. The restaurant is closing its doors after it lost its lease with the landlord of the property.

The restaurant is somewhat of a fixture in the campus area, it’s buffet having filled untold numbers of undergraduate bellies since its founding in 1972. When KUT News visited this afternoon, the line was stretching out the door. (It doesn’t hurt that from now until closing, all buffet customers pay the “kid’s price” of $5.49.)

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Business
5:18 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Protesters Attempt to 'Occupy' Chase Bank

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Members of Occupy Austin staged a protest at a local Chase Bank branch this afternoon, resulting in protesters’ ejection from the building.

Occupy Austin had pushed for the City of Austin to move their funds from Bank of America. In February, the Austin City Council passed a resolution looking at that possibility. But instead of shifting those funds to smaller banks or credit unions, as Occupy Austin had hoped for, the city transferred its money to JP Morgan Chase.   

On the heels of JP Morgan’s disclosure of billions in losses from risky financial trades, Occupy Austin members protested at a Chase branch on 19th and Guadalupe Street.

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Business
1:04 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Chamber of Commerce Aims to Lure Tech Talent to Austin

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce hopes this new website will attract new talent.

Today the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce announced the launch of a new website designed to help fill Austin’s so-called “technology gap.”

The chamber says that Austin tech companies are having trouble finding qualified local candidates for mid-to-senior level positions. Last month the chamber found that 28 percent of posted job openings in the area were tech-related.

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Business
3:15 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Asian Chambers of Commerce Merge to Serve Growing Population

Austin’s Asian population is growing – and now it’s leading to some big changes for two organizations that support Asian businesses.
Photo courtesy Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Austin’s population is more Asian than Texas as a whole – but it has a lower percentage of Asian-owned businesses.  That’s one reason two local chambers of Commerce are merging.

Today the Texas Asian Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Asian American Chamber of Commerce officially joined forces to form one group: the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce.

Board member Ying McGuire says the united chamber will offer help to Asian-Americans, immigrants and refugees.

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Business
10:56 am
Thu May 10, 2012

Postal Service Presents Plan to Keep Thousands of Rural Post Offices Open

This post office in Cat Spring, Texas is one slated for fewer hours instead of closure under a new proposal.
Photo courtesy Jimmy Wayne, flickr.com/auvet

The United States Postal Service has announced a plan that will keep thousands of small and rural post offices open – cancelling an earlier plan to close up to 3,700 locations. The new plan will keep the current post office locations in place but will modify their hours of operation.

Lobby and post office box services will remain the same, but over 13,000 smaller post offices could reduce their business day to two to six hours, including over a dozen location in Blanco, Martindale, Maxwell and Caldwell counties.

Postmaster General and USPS CEO Patrick R. Donahoe cites demand from customers as the reason for the shift. “We believe today’s announcement will serve our customers’ needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the Postal Service return to long-term financial stability,” he says in a press release.

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Business
11:36 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Today at UT: The 'Super Bowl' or 'Project Runway' of Business Pitches - Take Your Pick

The McCombs Business School is sponsoring a high stakes venture competition today.
Photo by Teresa Viera for KUT News

Rental maternity clothing? Malnutrition-fighting porridge? Dust compressors? Soon, one of these inventions could be part of your daily life.

Beginning today and running through Saturday, the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition will evaluate business concepts from 40 teams around the world. Hosted by McCombs School of Business' Texas Venture Labs, it's the longest-running competition for graduate student entrepreneurs – the "Super Bowl of business plan competitions," as the school describes it in a press release.

To qualify for the competition, teams had to win regional competitions first, with competitors culled from 13 countries including Thailand, Brazil, Germany and Norway. UT's team has invented a product called eyeQ, which according to McCombs School of Business spokesperson Renee Hopkins, uses video-based technology to monitor consumer purchasing behavior. In other words: Stores get information about how their customers shop, and customers will get an Amazon.com-like retail experience in a brick and mortar store.

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Business
2:25 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Travis County Approves Apple Incentives Deal

Travis County joined the city and state in offering incentives to Apple today.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/cdnphoto

The Travis County Commissioner’s Court has approved an incentives package for computing company Apple to expand operations in Austin.

As reported earlier today,Travis County is estimated to give Apple between $5.4 and $6.4 million dollars in tax rebates over 15 years. This comes on top of Austin's estimated $8.6 million in tax rebates over the next ten years, and the state's $21 million in incentives. In return, Apple says it will bring well over 3,000 jobs to the Austin area.

County commissioners said Apple should consider economically disadvantaged individuals for employment. However, that’s not stipulated as part of the contract’s requirement.

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Business
11:29 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Amazon to Start Paying Texas Sales Tax

Amazon has promised a Texas expansion, in addition to paying sales tax starting this summer.

After talks between online retailer Amazon.com and the state over paying sales taxes collapsed last year, the parties have reached an agreement.

The Office of the State Comptroller and Amazon stated today that beginning in July, Amazon – which had a distribution center in Irving, Texas – will begin paying state sales tax.

Amazon also announced it will “create at least 2,500 jobs and make at least $200 million in capital investments” in Texas, over the next four years.

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Business
8:18 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Report Says Wal-Mart Hushed Bribery Campaign In Mexico

A van covered by a mural sits parked outside a Walt-Mart Super Center in Mexico City. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hushed up a vast bribery campaign that top executives of its Mexican subsidiary carried out to build stores across Mexico, according to a published report by the New York Times.
Dieu Nalio Chery AP

Originally published on Sun April 22, 2012 7:17 am

In a massive investigation, The New York Times reported Saturday that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. silenced a vast bribery effort that top executives of Mexican subsidiary Wal-Mart de Mexico carried out in order to build stores across the country.

According to the report:

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Business
12:55 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Trader Joe's to Open Austin Location in 2013

Rendering courtesy of Trader Joe's

Austinites woke up this morning to the news, first reported by the Statesman, that Trader Joe's plans to open a location at the soon-to-be-constructed Seaholm Development downtown.

The Monrovia, California-based specialty grocery retailer first revealed its Texas expansion almost a year ago, but announced stores in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, the Woodlands and Plano before saying it would open a store in the city that spawned Whole Foods. 

Here are some details on the planned Austin location:

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Economy
12:43 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Food Stamps Helped Many Families Weather The Recession

Food stamps kept the carts rolling during the recession.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 10:26 am

Food stamps have long been a favorite whipping boy of politicians looking to beat up on government spending. But the massive food-assistance program does help keep people out of poverty, according to new research.

Food stamp benefits led to a decline of 4.4 percent in poverty from 2000 to 2009, according to a new report from the USDA's Economic Research Service.

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Business
4:52 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Credit Breach: Tips on Protecting Yourself

There's less drastic measures than those depicted for victims of credit card theft.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/jcolman

The revelation that a leading credit card payment processor had some 1.5 million card numbers breached has put Texas consumers on alert.

Details are scarce about who has been affected at this point, but the latest potential for identity theft may raise a collective groan in Texas. Just a year ago, the State Comptroller’s office revealed it had left the Social Security information of 3.5 million state workers online, on an unsecured webpage.

The Comptroller’s Office offered those affected one year of free credit monitoring. But now that that period is drawing to a close.

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Business
3:11 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Global Payments Says 1.5 Million Credit Card Numbers May Be Compromised

A customer swipes a MasterCard debit card through a machine while checking-out at a shop in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 11:50 am

Global Payments, a third-party processor of credit card payments for Visa, MasterCard and Discover, said late last night that the data breach made public last week may have risked about 1.5 million credit card numbers.

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Business
3:21 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

What’s an EB-5 Regional Center? And More Importantly, How Can it Bring Jobs to Austin?

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and several others called for creation of an international investment agreement for Austin.
Photo courtesy facebook.com/pages/Lee-Leffingwell

Mayor Lee Leffingwell proposed this morning that Austin apply for a program that would encourage international investment in local green jobs, by designating Austin as an EB-5 Regional Center.

But what on earth is an EB-5 Regional Center?

A designation of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), EB-5 Regional Centers allow cities to receive immigrant investor capitol – either $500,000 or $1 million. Investors must also present evidence the investment “will create at least 10 full-time positions.” In exchange, the investor and the investor’s family “is granted conditional permanent residence” – more commonly known as a green card – “for a two-year period.” 

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Business
3:10 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Council Approves Apple Incentives Deal

Approval of an incentives package last night boosts Apple's likelihood of expanding locally.
City Hall photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The Austin City Council approved an estimated $8.6 million in tax breaks for tech-giant Apple last night.

The incentives – taking the form of tax rebates over the next 10 years –encourage Apple to expand its operations in Austin. Governor Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund already offered Apple incentives of $21 million. Travis County is said to be considering additional incentives as well.

Apple says it will create over 3,600 new jobs in Austin, and invest millions in a new “Americas Operations Center” in Northwest Austin. Apple’s government liaison Mike Foulkes noted it would be the “first ground up campus outside of California in the world.”

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Business
3:22 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Whole Foods Announces Opening Dates for Two New Stores

Whole Foods' flagship store and offices at Sixth and Lamar
Photo by Nathan Beriner for KUT News

Austin-based Whole Foods Market has announced the opening dates of two new stores in Central Texas today. The company’s Bee Cave location at the Hill Country Galleria will open on May 16th. The southwest Austin location at the intersection of MoPac and William Cannon will open on June 19th.

Both stores “will be about 35,000 square feet in size and will each employ 150 to 200 Team Members,” the company states in a press release.

The company reported a 33 percent increase in profits for the first quarter of this year, and more than 10 billion dollars in sales in 2011.

Business
4:37 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

City Council Gets First Bite at Apple Incentives Agreement

The City Council held an initial discussion of an incentives package for Apple today.
City Hall photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and should it expand in Austin, computing-giant Apple’s “Americas Operations Center” would take some time too.

At today’s meeting of the Austin City Council, company representatives stated it would take four years to build a 200,000 square foot facility in Northwest Austin if Apple decides to expand here.

That was one of the details the council learned today at a meeting on the proposed property tax rebate agreement the city is considering with Apple. We wrote in detail about the contract yesterday.

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