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

Dive Bar and Lounge
Michael Minasi / KUT

Texas bars can reopen at 25% capacity today – just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Even with the limited number of customers, it’s a good opportunity to make back some of the money these businesses have lost after months of closures. 

But while many bars are eager to reopen, some aren't quite ready yet.

Thousands of donated masks were dropped off at the Mexican consulate Monday to be distributed to construction workers in Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Thousands of masks are on their way to construction workers in the Austin area.

The 100,000 masks were donated Monday by the Austin Emergency Supply Foundation, a new nonprofit made up of business leaders with specific medical supply and logistics expertise.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Desirae Pierce and her teachers at Breath and Body Yoga have been doing classes over Zoom for the past two months. Today, they'll start holding small, in-person classes at the Tarrytown studio.

While online classes were popular, Pierce says, she's excited to bring back an in-person practice.

Path Salon in South Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Two clients are getting their hair done at Path Salon in South Austin today. The appointments are owner Ryan Driggers' way of testing new protocols at the salon.

Driggers said the reopening comes with a lot of emotions.

An empty playground at the University of Texas Child Development Center in Austin.
Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

Restaurant servers, retail cashiers and movie theater concession workers in Texas could be called back to work as soon as Friday, in the first phase of the state's emergence from a coronavirus shelter-at-home order.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The federal government is adding another $310 billion to help small businesses hold onto workers through the coronavirus pandemic. The first round of $349 billion ran out in less than two weeks. And, perhaps, as with the first round, where businesses bank could be a big factor in whether they get a loan.

 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of Austin and Travis County are partnering to form a task force focused on reopening the local economy. The Opening Central Texas for Business Task Force will be spearheaded by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. 

Michael Cargill owns Central Texas Gun Works.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The line outside the door at Central Texas Gun Works on March 12 took owner Michael Cargill completely by surprise. The day before, business had been flowing as usual: a steady stream of two or three customers at a time stopping in to the small Austin store to browse, buy, or sign up for gun licensing and safety classes.

SPIbelt Founder Kim Overton wears one of the fabric face masks her company has started making since the coronavirus outbreak.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak hit Kim Overton’s company like it did many others.

“We had to let go four people and a lot of our retail partners have had to shut their doors,” she said.

Independence Brewings sells beers to-go during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The stay-at-home order that’s kept Austinites spending most of their time at home for the last couple weeks has also increased demand on the “essential” businesses left to supply them with goods. That includes grocery stores and restaurants, but also breweries.

Many businesses have been shut down during the pandemic, forcing layoffs and furloughs of thousands of workers.
Julia Reihs / KUT

When Brian Biehl found out Wednesday that he’d been furloughed from his job at a company that makes software for restaurants in Austin, the first thing he did was take his dog for a walk.

“You know, [to] kind of assess the situation,” he said.

A construction worker at a building site at Trinity and Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin on March 23, 2020.
Julia Reihs / KUT

When Austin issued its stay-at-home order last week, it was kind of vague about construction. Some people were confused, and plenty of builders stayed on the job. So, can builders keep building?

No – with some exceptions.

Bars and businesses are closed and boarded up on Sixth Street on Thursday.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin small businesses and nonprofits hurt by the COVID-19 crisis can now apply for emergency loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The Austin City Council is also considering a gap-financing program that could provide loans to applicants as they await the federal loans.

Nickel City Co-owner Travis Tober and Manager Amanda Carto go over delivery orders.
Michael Minasi / KUT

To say businesses in Austin are getting hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic is putting it lightly. The City of Austin on Tuesday ordered all bars and restaurants to close their dining rooms, restricting businesses to takeout and delivery-orders only.

A sign posted at Via 313
Julia Reihs / KUT

The City of Austin’s Economic Development Department doesn't know how many residents will lose income because of the bar and restaurant closures and crowd-control rules announced to stop the spread of COVID-19. But, with more than 125,000 people working in the service and hospitality industry alone, the number is bound to be high.

A sign at H-E-B tells customers they are limited to two items of bath tissue per shopping visit.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Texans don’t need to rush out and stock up on groceries or household items: There’s no shortage if everyone takes only what they need.

That’s the message from Texas officials and industry representatives, who say preparing for a health disaster like the state's COVID-19 outbreaks is different from a natural disaster.

Cindy Lo, owner of Red Velvet Events
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Cindy Lo spent the weekend after South by Southwest was canceled reassessing things. The owner of Red Velvet Events and her 27 employees have a reputation for transforming spaces into experiences for clients like Mercedes Benz and Tito’s Vodka. The loss of the festival could have been worse for her.

Julia Reihs/KUT

The cancellation of South by Southwest will have economic ripple effects for the rest of the year, according to a consulting firm that does an annual economic analysis of the festival and conference.

"It certainly is a shock, and it's going to be an economic shock," says Greyhill Advisors partner Ben Loftsgaarden. 

Julia Reihs / KUT

South by Southwest brings in a huge amount of money for local businesses and the community, and the festival could be just the first of several big events called off amid fears of the coronavirus.

Small businesses, gig workers and others who depend on these events for income will struggle, and the ripple effects could be felt for a long time.

A Cap Metro rider removes a bicycle from the front of the bus.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Some Capital Metro bus drivers wore black makeup or a black sticker under their eyes Wednesday in a symbolic "Black Eye" protest of drawn-out labor negotiations between their union and a Cap Metro contractor.

Atari/GSD Group

Atari plans to open a video game-themed hotel in Austin.  

The company announced Monday it had partnered with Napoleon Smith III, the producer of the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies, and GSD Group, a branding and strategy firm, to open theme hotels in eight cities.

Hispanics Are The Largest Minority In The U.S. But They Hold Less Than 5% Of Executive Positions

Jan 24, 2020
Buildings in downtown Austin.
Luis Perales for KUT

Many organizations have prioritized workplace equality and access to high-paying, executive level jobs for minority groups in recent years.

Activists attend a human rights rally at the Texas Capitol after Trump's inauguration.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The number of companies in Texas – and the U.S. as a whole – adopting policies and practices inclusive of LGBTQ employees is growing, a new study finds.

Construction in downtown Austin
Julia Reihs / KUT

The Texas economy kept humming along in 2019, though at a slightly slower tempo than in the last few years. And while Austin will continue to grow in 2020, that growth will slow to what one economist calls a "more normal" rate of growth. 

Blue Origin

Private space flight company Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket Wednesday.

The company – owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos – nixed plans for a launch Tuesday due to weather conditions. This morning’s flight is the first test flight in seven months at the company's Van Horn facility.

The H-E-B at 2400 South Congress
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Big changes are ahead for H-E-B stores in South Austin next year. The company says it's investing $200 million to open three new stores. Meanwhile, three other locations are closing – two of them permanently.

Gun Background Checks Are On Pace To Break Record In 2019

Dec 4, 2019
Guns for sale
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Background checks on gun purchases in the U.S. are climbing toward a record high this year, reflecting what the industry says is a rush by people to buy weapons in reaction to the Democratic presidential candidates' calls for tighter restrictions.

Trump supporters hold signs welcoming the president
Julia Reihs / KUT

President Donald Trump got away from the impeachment inquiry in Washington on Wednesday and celebrated tech behemoth Apple keeping its Mac Pro computer manufacturing plant in the Texas state capital.

Donald Trump
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

President Donald Trump will be in Austin on Wednesday for a tour of a new Apple manufacturing plant.

Trump has had six public visits to Texas this year, during a time in which questions have been raised about whether the dependably red state will be competitive in the 2020 elections. Here's what you need to know about his visit.

KUT

Car2go is pulling out of Austin.

The business, owned by the German luxury-car maker Daimler, allows people to rent cars by the minute. In a message posted on the car2go website Friday, the company said it "underestimated the investment and resources that are truly necessary to make our service successful in these complex transportation markets amid a quickly-changing mobility landscape."

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