A cursory glance at any list that features top ten entrepreneur-friendly cities will reveal a telling thing. The name of one city is repeated in almost every one of them- Austin. Between the years of 2010 and 2013, the place has seen an increase of small businesses at an impressive growth rate of 9.7%- one of the highest in the country.
The capital city of Texas has a lot going for it. This fastest growing and second safest city in the USA has now emerged as a business hub, with so many big names headquartered there. Among others, Paypal,Google, Whole Foods Market, and Amazon have made the city their home. Austin is also a vital center for technology oriented businesses, with Apple, Google, Cisco, Oracle, Texas Instruments, Intel and IBM all present there. That’s not all; Austin also has huge opportunities in the fields of biotech and pharma.
This city does not levy personal income tax or corporate income taxes, one of the draws for the small businessman. So many news agencies and journals have bestowed Austin with many titles- it’s the topmost city for small business growth, the best if you’re looking to set up a start-up in the world of technology, and the number one place from anywhere in the country to start a business, period.
No wonder then that Austin is one of the most popular choices for youngsters trying to establish businesses. Their presence is changing the way this city looks and feels, without taking away the core of what the city is. One of the key ways is in construction. Massive building projects have come up, both commercial and residential. Luxury apartments in Austin, like ones offered by the Connor Group, carry every amenity possible, including private balconies and great views. It’s true that rents have gone up as a result, but on the other hand, the economy is growing, with the unemployment rate at 3.1 percent.
Austin is also gender-friendly and has equal opportunities for men and women. Women are especially recognized thanks to events like the yearly Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power awards.
This year, out of the 34 finalists of the WeWorkCreator Awards, seven are from Austin. Ideas come from all walks of business- not for profit companies that work with arts and native music, and others that work with food, technology and a host of other products.
Austin has always been renowned for its vibrant music scene, thanks to iconic names like Willie Nelson. Because of a younger crowd, more and more music related events are gaining prominencein The Live Music Capital of the World, as the city’s called. This year, the good old South by Southwest festival spread over 10 days had movie, music and games incorporated. An energetic music scene contributes to the attractions of Austin.
Young people need avenues for entertainment and fun and Austin offers plenty of that. The city’s parks have great choices, and include a bike ride through the famous Lady Bird Lake. Wineries, beer places, live music scenes, rock climbing and sports climbing. One can spend many hours at Zilker Park with its 400 acres of woodlands and fields. This is great to have a team building day, take a business meeting or just rewind from the hectic successful week. Kayaking is also popular, as Austin loves all sorts of water sports.
One of the key elements that make the city so successful has nothing to do with numbers and policies. It’s the people and their willingness to help others, regardless of whether they benefit or get anything out of it. Businesses actively seek out other businesses and offer them help in terms of contacts, events and information. This is where the concept of coworking comes into play. The concept works brilliantly for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businessmen by offering them a work place. Not just that, coworking enterprises like Orange also extend event space and meeting rooms for all. From parking space to great internet speed and assistance of all kinds, coworking spaces are a huge help in more ways than one.
In fact, post Hurricane Harvey, Austin’s co-working companies actually offered free work space to entrepreneurs from Houston. Not one or ten, but 45 local, independent business co-working companies came together to create an Alliance, to help with work, donations and relief work. The Austin spirit is alive and well, as is evident here.
A great business-school, a university that has a young crowd, ready to take on jobs and responsibilities, investors and incubators- everything in ways big and small have helped the city’s businessmen and women. Austin fosters a spirit of cooperation and not confrontation, it creates camaraderie and a feeling of ownership and investment in each other. This is unique and necessary and so worthy of emulation and respect.
This year, Austin was named the ‘best place to live in,’ by US News & World Report. We can easily see why.