11:25 am
Wed October 5, 2011

Texas Restaurants Struggle in Tough Economy

Photo by Kelley Shannon for KUT News

Texas restaurants are slowly recovering from the recession, but difficult conditions remain because of rising food and utility prices and consumer spending caution, industry officials say.

“It’s still really tough out there,” said Wendy Saari, vice president for marketing with the Texas Restaurant Association.

However, Texas is doing better than some states, with sales projected to grow this year.

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2:31 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

New Apartments Going Up On Shores of Lady Bird Lake

An artist's rendering of the view from a new development under construction near the intersection of I-35 and Riverside Drive.
Photo by BOKA Powell

If you were wondering what they were building in the northeast corner of the I-35 and Riverside Drive intersection, wonder no more! Developers announced today the construction of what they are calling the “first high-rise residential development” on the southern shores of Lady Bird Lake.

The development is called RiverView. It’s 280,000 square foot project with 302 apartments. Developers are seeking a LEED Silver rating with the building’s water saving plumbing fixtures, use of recycled materials, storm water collection, and other environmentally friendly features.

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4:50 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Study: Live Music Remains Top Draw For Austin Tourists

People watch Fleet Foxes perform at Stubb's in May. A new survey says live music is still the main reason why tourists visit Austin.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT

Don’t expect Austin tourism officials to drop the “Live Music Capitol of the World” moniker anytime soon.

A new survey indicates music is still the number one magnet luring tourists to the city.

More than 77 percent of respondents said they “Strongly Agree” that Austin is a destination to enjoy live music, the most positive response of any category. If you include those who “Agree”, the number leaps to 94.2 percent.

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3:42 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Drought Causes Millions in Losses for Lake Travis Economy

This image shows the economic impact of Lake Travis levels. The lake is currently at 629 feet.
Image by Robert Charles Lesser & Co

Lake Travis is an engine for economic activity that pumps $668 million into the local community and supports about 5,200 jobs, according to a new analysis. But low lake levels are draining money from the area.

Specifically, when Lake Travis falls beneath 660 feet above sea level, visitor spending drops by up to $33.8 million, the report by Robert Charles Lesser & Co says. The report was commissioned by Travis County and local business owners, many of whom hope to affect the LCRA's Highland Lakes policy.

 When Lake Travis gets below 650 feet, the study says it’s even worse, “driven by the closure of most of the lake’s boat ramps as well as media attention.”

Lake Travis is currently at 629 feet.

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1:45 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Tubing Companies Sue Over New Braunfels Container Ban

Tubers drifting down the drought-depleted Guadalupe River.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

A group of tubing companies is trying to stop New Braunfels from banning disposable food and beverage containers on the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers. The city ordinance was passed 5-2 in August, but it will face a vote in November after opponents gathered more than the 1,666 necessary to challenge the rule.

The drought has crippled the tourism business along the river, and a coalition of tubing companies that filed the suit in Comal County Court believes the ban will make matters even worse.

Rockin' R River Rides general manager Shane Wolf says his business is down 35 percent. He says his colleagues are reporting similar losses, which, he points out, digs into the city’s tax base.

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12:48 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Austin Tourism Makes a Comeback

A new report shows travel to Austin was up in 2010.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.

After two years of declines, Austin-area tourism rebounded last year to pre-recession levels. That’s according to a new report from the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. The report says 19.8 million people visited the Austin-Round Rock metro area in 2010 (including both day and overnight trips). 

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4:16 pm
Tue September 27, 2011

Texas Grocery Prices Fluctuate As Beef Price Surge Looms

This grid from the Texas Farm Bureau shows how grocery prices have changed. The "quarterly change" represents price fluctuations over the last three months.
Photo by Texas Farm Bureau

The price of grapefruit in Texas skyrocketed by almost 25 percent from June to September and sliced turkey was up 14 percent. But chicken breast was six percent cheaper over the same time frame and the price of a head of lettuce cost nine percent less.

Average it all out, and Texas food prices were relatively steady over the last three months, according to the Texas Farm Bureau’s Grocery Price Watch report.

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2:45 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Opining on a Market Dump

Global markets were in turmoil today. Gold fell and the dollar rose against the Euro.
Photo illustration by Daniel Reese for KUT News.

The world markets went into free fall today. All major indices fell, the Euro slumped and the dollar rose. Even gold fell. All the turmoil spurred local entrepreneur and business journalist, Mark Dewey, to put it all a poem. Check it out:


A market crash is something like a giant gash

inside my soul.   I was wrong, now I pay,

or maybe I was right but didn't say or didn't take the necessary steps.


"I told you so" I tell myself.  I knew Europe would take us down.

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2:31 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

The Secrets Of Whole Foods

Originally published on Mon September 19, 2011 10:22 am

Fast Company visits a Whole Foods in Manhattan to explain how the store creates the illusion of freshness:

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2:02 pm
Fri September 16, 2011

Texas Loses 1,300 Jobs, Austin Gains 5,600

Texas added 1,900 construction jobs last month and 400 of them were in Austin.
Photo by KUT

Texas experienced a net job loss of 1,300 this month, causing the August unemployment rate to tick up to 8.5 percent from 8.4 percent in July.  A year ago, Texas’ unemployment rate was 8.2 percent.

Texas Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken blamed a “stagnant national economy” for the job losses, but most of the cuts were in local government. About 11,500 positions were eliminated at municipalities and counties in August.  The state government added 1,700 jobs and the federal government increased its workforce in Texas by 400.

Meanwhile, Texas’ private sector added 8,100 jobs last month.

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4:33 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

If Dallas-based AT&T Merged With T-Mobile, Would It Hurt Consumers?

This June 2, 2010 file photo shows the AT&T logo in Washington DC. The US Justice Deparment will seek to block AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile.
Etienne Franchi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 2:04 pm

When two big companies announce plans to merge, there's always grumbling about what it will do to the market and especially the consumer.

The Justice Department said today that it would try to block the merger of AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc. because it would "substantially lessen competition" in the wireless market.

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10:53 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Justice Dept. Sues To Block Dallas-based AT&T's Acquisition Of T-Mobile

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 10:15 am

The Justice Department just confirmed that it has "filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block AT&T Inc.'s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA Inc."

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2:42 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

UT Economist: Beauty is Good for Business

Being a good looking person will help your business and make you wealthier, according to a new book by University of Texas economist Daniel Hamermesh.

"Most of us, regardless of our professed attitudes, prefer as customers to buy from better-looking salespeople, as jurors to listen to better-looking attorneys, as voters to be led by better-looking politicians, as students to learn from better-looking professors," Hamermesh wrote this weekend in an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times.

In his new book, Beauty Pays, Hamermesh examines his own research and other studies from around the world to conclude that an individual's physical appearance can have a direct impact on his or her economic success.  Check out the video above, produced by UT Austin, for a sampling of his argument.

2:12 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Facebook Ends Daily Deals Pilot in Austin and Other Cities

Facebook is killing its daily deals business in Austin and other pilot cities, according to a statement emailed to the Reuters news agency.

"We think there is a lot of power in a social approach to driving people into local businesses," Facebook added in the statement. "We've learned a lot from our test and we'll continue to evaluate how to best serve local businesses."

The world’s largest social network chose Austin and four other cities in April to launch its own version of daily deals coupon sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Localiter.

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university of texas
10:40 am
Tue August 30, 2011

UT Co-Op To Start Selling Some Groceries

The University of Texas Co-Op is located on Guadalupe St., across from the UT campus.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

It won't quite a full-blown grocery store, but the University of Texas Co-Op is about to start selling some grocery items, ranging from milk and eggs, to frozen dinners and canned food, to beer and wine.

“We’ve actually got one of the largest coolers that money can buy,” Co-Op Market Manager Zack Voelker told KUT News. “We’ve got a twenty door reach-in/walk-in vault.”

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12:41 pm
Fri August 19, 2011

Texas Adds More Jobs But Unemployment Up To 8.4 Percent

Photo by kandyjaxx

Texas has received its first monthly unemployment report since Governor Rick Perry announced he was running for President on his record of job creation. The numbers from Texas Workforce Solutions show the state added 29,300 jobs last month.

But the state unemployment rate still ticked higher, from 8.2 percent in June to 8.4 percent in July. That’s because more people started looking for jobs in Texas.

The Texas unemployment rate is now edging closer to the national average of 9.1 percent.

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3:24 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Dell Could Benefit From HP Selling Its PC Business

Dell headquarters in Round Rock
Photo courtesy of Dell, Inc.

Hewlett-Packard is going to sell its PC business, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. HP is currently the world’s largest PC maker. Round Rock-based Dell is the second largest.

So what would it mean for Dell, which employs about 16,000 people in Central Texas?  We asked John Doggett, a senior lecturer at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.

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5:55 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

Texas Offers Higher Incentives to Video Game Industries

Photo by popculturegeek

Texas is hoping to attract more video game companies to the state by increasing incentives for them to relocate here. Garry Gaber helps run Austin Community College’s Game Development Institute. He thinks it's a good decision.

 "It is hopefully going to bring a lot of business, even more business into Austin," says Gaber. "I think it's a very good thing for the gaming industry, and it would be very good for our students because it would give them more places to find employment."

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2:53 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

East 7th Street Business Owners Hope For Better Days Ahead

For the past sixteen months, a project to beautify East 7th Street has plagued local businesses.  Construction to improve safety and utilities limited access to restaurants, tax consultants, and convenience stores.  Now that the streets look nicer with fresh paint and new plants, some business owners are wondering if it was all worth it.

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1:57 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

How Did Whole Foods Increase Profit 35 Percent?

Whole Foods' flagship store at Lamar and W. 6th Street
Photo by Beth Cortez-Neavel for KUT News

Austin-based Whole Foods Market blew away analyst expectations yesterday with a 35 percent increase in third quarter profit. After the news broke, investors grabbed up Whole Foods stock. That sent shares in the company surging to their highest level since 2006.

But it was only two years ago, in the middle of the recession, that people were asking if Whole Foods could survive. Sales for its expensive, gourmet foods were plummeting and the stock dropped 75 percent in year.

So what happened between now and then, besides the country’s slow economic recovery? Two things, according to equities researcher Karen Short with BMO Capital Markets: value and organic health food.

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