Business

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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Business
5:28 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

The Fine Print on Austin’s $8.6 Million Deal with Apple

The Austin Apple Store at the Domain. Should they accept the city and state's offer, Apple will drastically expand their Northwest Austin operations.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/tomask

Last week, Gov. Rick Perry’s announced a $21 million economic development agreement with computing-giant Apple. The company is considering a major expansion of its Austin campus, potentially creating up to 3,600 new jobs and investing hundreds of millions of dollars.

This Thursday, the Austin City Council is set to receive a briefing on an economic development deal with Apple. But the contract the city is considering is completely different from the governor’s proposal.

Confused? Don’t worry. We've sorted out the details.

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Business
3:01 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Nostalgic 'Upscale' Motel Planned for the Domain

An artist's rendering of the Lone Star Court, a retro motel planned to open at the Domain in 2013
Photo courtesy of Valencia Group

A company from Houston is getting ready to build a retro motel at the Domain that is reminiscent of motor courts of the 1950s, an era when TVs and coin-operated radios were major selling points.

But in keeping with the 21st century, the hotel is also said to include “high-tech amenities.”

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economy
5:05 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Austin Gas Prices: Below Average, But On the Rise

Gas prices are on the rise, both locally and nationally
Photo by KUT News

The price of a gallon of gasoline is capturing people’s attention – including presidential candidates.

The increase in gas prices is being felt nationally, and Austin is no exception. The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge pegs the current price per gallon in the Austin-San Marcos region at $3.51.

That’s still below the national average of $3.65. But locally, Austin’s current gas process have risen over six cents since last week; a year ago, Austin prices stood at $3.06.

Austin Gas Prices has a rundown of the lowest prices in the area. 

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economy
5:09 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

With Thin Apartment Vacancy, Home Buying Jumps in January

January home sales showed a 10 percent spike over sales the same time last year, says the Austin Board of Realtors.
Photo by KUT News

Austin saw a surge in single-family home sales last month, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.

In a new report, the board says home sales were up ten percent last month over January 2011. While comparing two months worth of data has limitations, the finding speaks more broadly to Austin housing demand.

Eldon Rude, director of the Austin market for real estate tracking firm Metrostudy, says the January numbers are part of an ongoing recovery of Austin’s housing market.

Rude says the numbers are “driven by continued increases in population and household in the region over the last several years, and people beginning to react to increasing rents in the apartment market, and so they’re moving toward the for sale housing market.”

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Austin
12:40 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

The Top 10 Austin Top 10 Lists

Austin: One of the fittest, most intelligent cities poised for greatness to do business in.
Photo courtesy commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:LoneStarMike

It’s gotten so that you can hardly count to ten without hearing about Austin’s latest accolade. Between high profile cultural events, the economic insulation of vast state and university employment, and a relatively affordable quality of life (at least compared to coastal enclaves like Los Angeles and New York), it’s not surprising everything’s coming up Austin.

But who can keep this procession of plaudits straight?

To get a gauge of just how many Austin-happy rankings are floating around at any one time, we looked for “best cities” rankings including Austin over the last two months. And from that, we compiled this meta-masterlist, a Top 10 of the city’s most recent Top 10 rankings ranging from the apparent, to the arbitrary, to the really, really arbitrary. 

So without further ado, Austin’s Top 10 Top 10 Listings:

  1. Green Tech Go: While it doesn’t rank Austin along other cities, this love letter from Time Magazine declares Austin has become “America’s Clean-Tech Hub.” It links growth in Austin’s nascent green and clean technology to its past performance in the semiconductor industry, and gives a shout out to the Pecan Street Project energy distribution experiment.
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Business
5:12 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Consulting Firm Gets Incentives To Create 239 Local Jobs

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A heath care services and research consulting firm will receive $500,000 in incentives through the Texas Enterprise Fund to expand its Austin office. The Washington, D.C.-based Advisory Board Company is the latest business awarded money from the fund created by Gov. Rick Perry to lure out-of-state companies to expand operations in Texas.

According to the agreement, the funds will create an additional 239 jobs in Austin and expand the company’s local division, focused on software development and technical support services.

The Legislature created the Texas Enterprise Fund in 2003 at Perry’s request.  Businesses that have received Texas Enterprise Fund incentives - totaling $441.7 million - include 3M, Caterpillar and Facebook.  According to the governor’s office, the fund has generated $15 billion in capital investment in the state.

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Business
4:49 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Louis Vuitton Sues San Antonio Flea Market

The Eisenhauer flea market in San Antonio
Photo by Jon Mallard http://www.flickr.com/photos/mallard10/

Opening arguments began this week in a lawsuit filed by luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton against San Antonio’s Eisenhauer flea market. The French company says the flea market allowed vendors to sell counterfeit products and is seeking $18 million.

Louis Vuitton’s lawyer said in opening arguments that the company sent representatives to the Eisenhauer Market and found as many as 15 vendors selling fake Louis Vuitton products, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

A lawyer for the market said its on-site manager was not trained to recognized counterfeit items.

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economy
12:58 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Williamson County Records Largest Wage Growth In US

Williamson County is home to a number of major employers, including Dell, which employs about 16,000 people in Central Texas.
Photo by Dell's Official Flickr Page http://www.flickr.com/photos/dellphotos/

Not only is it one of the fastest growing areas in the nation, but Williamson County has also just recorded the largest increase in weekly wages of any large county in the United States.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced today that average weekly wages in Williamson County grew by 18 percent in the second quarter of 2011 to $1,042. The increase of $159 compares to national growth of $26 or three percent.

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Business
10:09 am
Thu December 29, 2011

Gas Prices Rise in Texas, Austin

KUT News

If you're hitting the road for the New Year's holiday you'll be paying a bit more for gas this week. AAA Texas is reporting that gasoline prices are four cents higher across the state as compared to last week.

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.09. That's up from $2.90 last year.

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economy
4:01 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Audio: Why Economists Hate Gifts

Students show off the results of their trades.
Caitlin Kenney NPR

Originally published on Tue May 22, 2012 10:14 am

  • Listen to the Podcast

Giving and receiving gifts can be a joyful thing — unless you're an economist. All those books that will never be read and ties that will never be worn are hugely inefficient.

To investigate a possible solution, we went to a seventh-grade classroom at a public school in Brooklyn.

The students were already familiar with the issue.

"This is kind of silly, but I got a Power Ranger," Tadre Jones said. "I was grateful, but I didn't really like it."

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Business
3:26 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Texas Brewers Can Now Advertise Where to Buy Their Beer

Photo by tommyh http://www.flickr.com/photos/tommyh/

Small breweries are celebrating a federal court ruling issued yesterday that strikes down state regulations limiting what beer makers can say about their products. U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks’ makes three changes to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) rules:

  • Brewers can now advertise the alcohol content of their beers on their websites and promotional materials.
  • Brewers can now also advertise where you can buy their products.
  • Brewers are no longer required to label any beer that is 0.5 to 4 percent alcohol as “beer” and they are no longer required to label anything above 4 percent as “ale” or “malt liquor.”

“Ale and beer are not mutually exclusive categories. Ale is one type of beer,” said Ron Extract with Austin-based brewer Jester King Craft Brewery, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. “It really has nothing to do with alcohol content.”

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Business
1:24 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Austin Home Sales Up

KUT News

According to a report put together by the Austin Board of Realtors, home sales were up 11% over last November.  The median price for homes was just under $190,000, which is a 3 percent increase over last year.

This is the sixth month in a row Austin sales have outpaced last year's numbers. The inventory of active single-family home listings is also down by 18 percent, and home sales so far this year are up 7 percent over 2010.

economy
4:47 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

Dallas Fed Chief: "Our Nation's Prosperity at Risk"

The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says low interest rates have provided the American private sector with "the financial means to grow employment" but not the incentive to do so. He says that reluctance to hire people and buy equipment is driven by uncertainty over taxes and the national deficit. The Dallas bank is one of twelve regional banks that are part of the Federal Reserve system. 

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