Business

Formula 1
7:33 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Is Driving on Austin's F1 Track Worth $55,000?

flickr.com/oxherder

If you ever wanted to ride an Formula 1 track in your own car, the Circuit of the Americas is now selling the opportunity. A full-day private track rental goes for $55,000. Group rates are available at $2,500 per person.

"Response has been strong with more than 250 people expressing interest within the first few days of offering the experience online," Circuit Executive Vice President Bruce Knox said in a press release. 

For a sport that caters to people who commute by helicopter and drop $10,000 on bottle service, it's probably not shocking to see a $55,000 price tag attached to a single day of entertainment. But how does it stack up against the competition? We poked around and found out. 

Read more
Business
11:32 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Austin Sets Export Record: $9 Billion

Samsung Austin Semiconductor is a major player in the city's leading export category: computer and electronic products.
Samsung

Exporting everything from semiconductors to barbecue sauce, the Austin metropolitan area set a new $9 billion record for exports in 2012.

The total was an increase of 4.1 percent, or $350 million, according to an announcement yesterday by the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration (ITA). The announcement says the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area was the 35th largest U.S. export for 2012. 

Read more
Technology
5:50 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Tech-Savvy Cities May Be 'Smart,' But Are They Wise?

Cable cars move commuters over a complex of shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro, one of many cities taking part in the smart city boom around the world.
Felipe Dana AP

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 3:52 pm

This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.

Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.


Interview Highlights

On what caused the smart city boom

Read more
Business
4:03 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Credit Unions To Congress: Don't Tax Us

Credit unions could lose tax-exempt status if federal lawmakers decide to repeal a law that has given unions tax-free status since 1934.
flickr.com/myfuturedotcom

Credit unions around the country want their members to memorize one phrase right now: Don’t tax my credit union.

The credit unions have enjoyed tax-exempt status since the 1930s, but lawmakers could push them to pay with new federal regulations.

Read more
Business
4:29 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Smaller Texas Banks Stand to Gain from Ban on Debit Surcharge

A prohibition on surcharges on debit cards issued by smaller banks takes effect in September.
U.S. Navy/LaTunya Howard

This year the Texas Legislature passed HB 3068, banning the surcharge placed on debit cards. The bill was championed by The Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT), an organization that provides resources to the state’s smaller, community banks.

IBAT Executive Vice President Stephen Scurrlock says the law will have a positive impact on Texas’ small businesses – and that by scuttling the additional cost of using a card not affiliated with a giant bank, payment by debit card will no longer discriminate against community banks. 

Read more
economy
6:52 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Austin-Area Home Sales Jump 29%, Setting New Record for May

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunchesandbits/4714938136/

More homes sold in the Austin-area last month than in any May on record, according to a report by the Austin Board of Realtors. Their analysis of MLS Listings shows 2,991 homes were sold in May, an increase of 29 percent over the same month last year.

The increased demand sent the median home price up by eight percent to $231,500. The average home is sitting on the market for just 44 days, which is 19 days less than May last year, according to the report.

Read more
Business
10:06 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Austin Slow to Warm to Mobile Pay Apps like Isis, Square

While mobile payment apps make transactions easier for retailers, some Austin business are still waiting for the payment platform to take off.
flickr.com/joeybones

The idea is great: Walk into your local coffee shop, order your usual, and pay with the tap of a finger. No credit cards, no cash, no wallet.

That’s the concept behind mobile payment apps like Isis and Square. Customers download an app to their phones, program their credit card, and pay by giving the cashier their name. Their card is charged instantly.

Read more
Food
7:45 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

You Can Soon Legally Sell These Foods From Your Home

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zigazou76/5846249822/

Time to crack open your recipe books, food entrepreneurs. A bill signed into law by Governor Perry overhauls regulation of so-called “cottage food businesses” to allow people to sell more products directly to consumers from more places: not just from their homes, but also at farmers markets, festivals, fairs and other events. The law takes effect September 1. 

There are a few qualifications to the law, along with a list of banned foods, so here's an easy to digest breakdown of House Bill 910.

Read more
Business
4:49 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Whole Foods Reviews Its Language Policy

Whole Foods is Feeling The Heat
flicker.com/wallyg

Austin-based Whole Foods Market says it will revisit its policy on speaking foreign languages after two Albuquerque employees claimed they were suspended for speaking Spanish to each other while on the job.

Whole Foods said, in a bilingual statement on the company's website, that the two were not suspended for speaking Spanish. Instead, the company claims they were actually disciplined for "rude behavior."  The company says the two erroneously believed that they had been told not to speak Spanish by a manager, and became upset.

Read more
Business
5:54 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Dell Says No to Icahn's Buyout Bid

A board committee wants the company to take the offer from its founder, Michael Dell.
courtesy Dell Inc.

One of the largest employers in Central Texas is rejecting a buyout offer from billionaire Carl Icahn.

A special committee of Dell’s board says it would rather investors accept a $24 billion buyout offer from company founder Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. That plan would take the company private.

Icahn’s plan would have kept Dell as a publicly traded company.

Business
1:36 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

No Smoking Outside Starbucks Shops Starting Saturday

Don't sit down here and have a smoke with your coffee, Starbucks says.
Mark Memmott NPR

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 12:17 pm

Starbucks is moving its smoking ban outdoors.

Starting Saturday, according to signs posted in its more than 7,000 shops across the U.S. and Canada, "the no-smoking policy ... will include outdoor areas."

"Smoking will be restricted within 25 feet of the store and within outdoor seating areas," the notices read.

Read more
Business
5:15 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

City of Austin Gets High Marks for Tax Incentive Disclosure

A watchdog group says Austin is exemplary at letting the public know how business tax subsidies are performing.
KUT News

You know those property tax breaks that Austin uses to lure companies like Apple and Visa to town? A Washington, D.C., group says the city is doing a pretty good job of letting us know how those deals pan out.

The nonprofit research center Good Jobs First gave Austin’s program 100 out of 100 for disclosing annual activity online and for providing third-party audits of each company receiving taxpayer incentives. 

Read more
Business
4:48 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Crunch Time Tonight for Tech Startups

Local entrepreneurs will be making pitches for funding at a TechCrunch event.
Huma Munir, KUT News

The tech news website TechCrunch is in Austin hosting a competition looking for the next big ideas.

At Pitch-Off, startups and individuals make minute-long pitches to a panel of judges. It’s already made stops in Chicago, Seattle, Toronto and Boston.

Read more
Business
2:41 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

After Apparent Suicide, Austin Financial Advisor Investigated

S. Mark Powell

Financial advisor S. Mark Powell ran the Austin office of money management firm Atlantic Trust until his death on May 16.

Powell's body was found in a cemetery in Mason County, where the cause of death has not been determined.  Sheriff Buster Nixon says that a final ruling will be made after toxicology tests come back, but that "everything (he's) seen is consistent with a self-inflicted wound."

Read more
economy
6:32 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Austin Home Sales Surged 32 Percent in April

http://www.flickr.com/photos/digallagher/4880157508/

Austin area home sales jumped by 32 percent in April compared to the same month last year. The Austin Board of Realtors says 2,563 single-family homes were sold last month.

That marks a nine-year high for the month of April, and it represents the twenty-third straight month of year-over-year sales increases. 

Read more
Business
9:41 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Pledging Not To 'Screw It Up,' Yahoo Seals Deal For Tumblr

They're coming together: Yahoo will pay $1.1 billion to acquire Tumblr.
Fred Dufour AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 8:06 am

The news that broke Sunday is now official.

Yahoo confirmed early Monday morning that it is buying Tumblr in a deal worth about $1.1 billion. "Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business," Yahoo added.

In its statement announcing the deal, Yahoo says that:

Read more
economy
2:30 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Austin Jobless Rate Dips to 5.1 Percent

flickr.com/jimnix

Austin’s economy added 30,500 jobs over the last year. The latest employment report shows the jobless rate dropped to 5.1 percent last month from 5.6 percent in April 2012. 

The recent job growth happened as more people were moving to the Austin-area looking for work. The civilian labor force grew by more than 27,000 in the past 12 months.

Read more
Business
11:35 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Chamber of Commerce Looks to Sell Austin Internationally

The State Department and Austin Chamber of Commerce welcomed 26 ambassadors this week in an effort to bring more business to the Capital City.
Andrew Weber for KUT News

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is looking to sell Austin abroad.

Yesterday, the chamber and the State Department invited 26 ambassadors from around the world joined top tech companies like Google, Apple, Samsung and AT&T at the Driskill Hotel, in a tour aimed at bringing more international businesses to Austin.

Read more
Business
2:34 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

U.S. Senate Poised To Approve Online Sales Tax Bill

Supporters of the Marketplace Fairness Act say it will level the playing field between online retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
Mike Coppola Getty Images for eBay

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 6:24 pm

Update at 7:00 p.m.:

The Senate has passed the Marketplace Fairness Act by a vote of 69 to 27, The Associated Press reports.

Here's our original post:

The Senate is expected to approve a measure on Monday that would end tax-free shopping for online purchases, a move that concerns many e-retailers but has the support of the states that stand to collect billions in previously lost revenues.

Read more
Economy
8:18 am
Fri May 3, 2013

165,000 Jobs Added In April, Jobless Rate Fell To 7.5 Percent

Waiting for work: Job seekers lined up last month at the 25th Annual CUNY big Apple Job and Internship Fair in Manhattan.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 3, 2013 9:05 am

(Most recent update: 10 a.m. ET.)

The nation's jobless rate edged down to 7.5 percent in April from 7.6 percent in March and employers added 165,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.

Read more

Pages