Business

Economics, employment, jobs, real estate, taxes, economic development and incentives, workforce development, IPOs, investment and anything related to business in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Highland Mall empty
Image courtesy Kari Sullivan http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilovemypit/

Calling it an "underperforming" location, Macy's has announced it is closing its struggling Highland Mall location and eliminating 125 jobs.

"Associates displaced by the store closing may be offered positions in nearby Macy’s stores where possible," Macy's said in a statement you can read below. "Regular full-time and part-time associates who are laid off due to the store closing will be provided severance benefits and outplacement assistance."

Macy's says a final clearance sale at the Highland Mall store will begin on Sunday will run for about ten weeks.

10th street and Brazos
Image by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Live Music Capitol of the World has topped another list of awesome cities. This time, it's the Under30CEO.com list of Top 10 Cities for Young Entrepreneurs in 2010.

Coming in third place right behind New York City and San Francisco, Austin is praised for all the familiar reasons:

Bundle of cash
Image courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/refractedmoments/

A state lawmaker wants to abolish the Texas Enterprise Fund and other pools of money Governor Perry can use at his discretion to attract investment. But doing so could disproportionately harm Austin, according to our analysis of a report released last week by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.

Stevie Ray Vaughn in the storm
Image courtesy Stuck in Customs http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/

The Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area added 17,700 jobs over the last 12 months, according to statistics released this morning by the Texas Workforce Commission. But because the size of the labor force also grew, the unemployment rate actually edged upwards to 7.1 percent in November 2010 compared to 7 percent in November 2009.

Thor Delta Missile
Image courtesy Quantum Fireworks

Companies that sell fireworks in Central Texas are adopting a voluntary ban on some flying fireworks because of the dry conditions.  Chester Davis owns American Fireworks and is president of the Texas Pyrotechnic Association.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema logo
Image courtesy Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Here it is! The local chain of beer and burger-serving movie theaters hired local design firm Guerilla Suit to create the new brand.  This is the first logo change for the Drafthouse in 12 years.

Check out their video to hear a history of the logo and the rationale behind the new design.

solar farm
Image courtesy RRE Austin Solar

Construction officially begins tomorrow on one of the largest solar farms in the country. The $230 million facility is being built by RRE Austin Solar in Pflugerville.

Besides hosting a 60 megawatt solar farm, the project also includes a nature trail, a wildflower meadow, trees, and a wind power exhibit. You can check out conceptual maps here and here.

Image courtesy Devil's Rancher http://www.flickr.com/photos/cvreeland/

A man who once ran Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the largest member-owned electric utility in the country, was found guilty today of charges related to funneling money to his brother and the son of a former PEC director.

A Gillespie County jury of nine women and three men found Bennie Fuelberg was guilty of money laundering between $100,000 and $200,000, misapplication of fiduciary duty in excess of $200,000, and theft of property in excess of $200,000.

Economic scorecard
Image courtesy Austin Chamber of Commerce

Job growth in the private sector will more than make up for anticipated government job cuts next year, according to a series of economic forecasts presented today by the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

A report examining the nation's "top 60" high tech cities says Austin has 65,400 tech sector jobs. The Cybercities 2010 report was released yesterday by the TechAmerica Foundation, a non-profit affiliate of a large technology trade association.

Groupon and similar sites like Localiter, GivShop, LivingSocial, TheLunchDeal, EverSave, and ADealio are already competing to appeal to Austin spendthrifts. Do we really need another website offering daily deals?

The answer is yes, if you ask Boston brothers Casey and Jesse Rankin. They run the site DealGator. They announced today they are expanding service to include more cities, including Austin. But wait, they say, their service is different!

Women owned business Census Bureau map
Image courtesy US Census Bureau

Texas has the second highest number of women-owned business in the country, according to new US Census Data released this afternoon. But the percentage of women-owned businesses in Texas still falls slightly below the national average.

Austin 10th and Brazos
Image by Nasha Lee for KUT News

Austin is the 26th most dynamic city in the post-recession world, according to a new report by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

The Global MetroMonitor report looks at cities' economic output and employment and ranks them based on how much they "punch above their weight."

Austin was the only American city in the top 30. Istanbul topped the list.

Mighty Fine burger
Image courtesy Matt Scoggin http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattscoggin/

The people behind a couple well-known Austin restaurant chains are getting a positive review from the the Obama administration. K&N Management - the company that owns Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q and Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes - is one of seven recipients of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, you may ask? Why it's only the "the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership," according to a press release.

solar panels
Image courtesy SunPower

SunPower Corporation announced today that it would build a new U.S. operations center in Austin. It would bring $10 million in capital investment and create 450 jobs. But the city must first cough up $90,000 per year over ten years in economic incentives.

gowalla disney pins
Image courtesy Gowalla

Austin-based Gowalla announced this morning that it's teaming up with Disney Parks to create a bunch of unique Disney themed locations for the social networking service.

Gowalla is an app that runs on smartphones and allows people to "check in" when they visit any location, from a restaurant, to a park, to a long line at a movie theater. Anyone can create locations, but some are custom made by Gowalla and have their own unique symbol. Checking in earns you a stamp on your virtual Gowalla passport.  Users can also earn pins and various other digital rewards.

KUT News called Gowalla today to talk about the new deal. We spoke with Andy Ellwood, their director of business development.

Aston Kauai Beach at Makaiwa
Image courtesy promotional video (below)

Local real estate firm JMI Realty is pitching in to buy a Marriot hotel on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The Austin Business Journal first reported it today based on a news release issued this morning, although the deal was first announced back in late-October.

JMI Realty is acquiring the 10 acre property in what is its first joint venture with Dallas-based Behringer Harvard. The price was not disclosed.

Austin-based Wintegra Sold to PMC-Sierra
Photo Courtesy of Wintegra, Inc.

PMC-Sierra Inc., a California-based semi-conductor company, has agreed to buy Austin-based Wintegra, Inc. for $213 million the companies announced Thursday.

PM-Sierra will pay the initial $213 million in cash, but has promised to pay an additional $60 million if Winetegra can match certain financial goals by the end of 2011.

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