With 110 people moving here each day, Austin has landed at the top of many lists as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Austin is also an increasingly popular vacation destination hosting approximately 19.7 million visitors each year.
Austinites love living here for many reasons: the hip music scene, the rich history, the diversity and the tacos, just to name a few. On the surface it’s easy to see why Austin is such a popular destination, but we wanted to get a deeper look at all of the amazing things that our beautiful city has to offer. To gain some insight and learn more about what makes Austin such a booming city, we spoke with a couple of city leaders who play active roles in Austin expansion.
Why do you think Austin has become one of the fastest growing cities in the country?
The Austin Chamber through its regional economic development strategy, Opportunity Austin, has for the last 10 years worked globally to proactively diversify the region’s economic base. Three hundred forty-seven companies in all sorts of different industry sectors have moved into the five-county region, which is why the Austin metro survived the Great Recession better than any other top 50 metro in the United States. Nearly 240,000 net new jobs over the ten year period – greater percentage increase than any of the top 50 metros.
How is Austin’s economy contributing to city growth?
Austin has led the nation in job growth on a percentage basis for the last 10 years and we see no let down in the foreseeable future in companies expanding and relocating to the Austin metro. On average 4,000 people a month move into the five-county metro mainly due to job opportunities.
What major changes is Austin going to be seeing in the coming months in regards to transportation and housing?
The upcoming bond election for transportation is critical as it will help with our main problem – traffic. There are a number of new housing units and apartments under construction, but [we’re] still lacking housing and apartments as demand keeps soaring. Developers are working fast to put more housing and apartments in the region.
How will these changes affect current and future residents?
In a positive way, with more jobs as companies continue to move to the Austin metro. However, that creates a need for a more creative five-county solution to the traffic woes which could put a cease to job growth if we don’t tackle this problem as a region. It is no longer an Austin / Travis County problem but impacts all four other counties (Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell).
The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau serves as the destination marketing organization for the City of Austin. They are responsible for marketing Austin to both leisure and business travelers. In fact, tourism in Austin, has an economic impact of $6.2 billion dollars and is responsible for nearly 54,000 jobs.
Are there new events and conventions coming in 2015 bringing in new visitors?
A highlight for us will be hosting the DMAI Annual Convention – DMAI stands for Destination Marketing Association International and is the official global trade organization for all DMOs. So this is a huge win for us and a great opportunity to showcase the city to all of our industry counterparts. One thing to keep in mind with tourism is that the meetings and conventions market is really the key foundation for growth for any market. In addition, we are hosting several other groups like the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, Rooster Teeth Productions and Super Computing.
In your opinion, what makes Austin such a popular vacation destination? What are the sites and attractions that appeal the most to visitors?
The laid back, friendly lifestyle and eclectic culture are really what make Austin a popular business and leisure destination. Our downtown is walkable, we feature quality live entertainment everywhere, and delectable, delicious food. Some of the key places that people seem to always go back to are Barton Springs Pool, the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, The State Capitol and our museums – including Bullock State History Museum and the LBJ Library and Museum.
What do you think makes Austin such an appealing city for the music and entertainment industry?
Austin has a long history as the Live Music Capital of the World. One of the catalysts to this identity was of course the longest running music shows in the U.S. – Austin City Limits. Incidentally, the show will celebrate is 40th anniversary this year. We also offer more than 250 live music venues, many of them incredibly intimate, and the city boasts over 2,000 recording artists.
How do these huge events and festivals (i.e. F1, X-Games, ACL Festival, SXSW) affect the city and its residents?
These events, festivals, meetings and conventions provide a substantial economic impact to the city, which allows residents to save on their taxes each year. Recent commissioned studies show that the 2013 SXSW had a total economic impact of $218.2 million and 313,200 in attendance. The 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival reported an economic impact of $182 million. Additionally, we know that the United States Formula 1 race attracted a total of 113,162 guests, of which 76,950 or 68 percent came from outside the State of Texas.
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