You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

breaking news

FORECAST: ‘Critical’ fire danger in Hill Country, ‘elevated’ danger in Austin this afternoon

Business


High-rise project planned for downtown Austin block

Another high-rise development is destined for yet another downtown Austin block. The Episcopal Church has selected Austin-based Cielo Property Group to partner in developing a church-owned block, with plans calling for a large mixed-use project, along with a permanent home for the church’s historical archives. Cielo Property Group, a commercial real estate investment and development firm, released...


Austin’s Alex Jones sued by Greek yogurt giant Chobani

Austin’s Alex Jones sued by Greek yogurt giant Chobani

An ongoing child custody battle is not the only legal entanglement involving Austin broadcaster Alex Jones this week. On Monday, Greek yogurt manufacturer Chobani filed a lawsuit against the host of Infowars. According to the Associated Press: Chobani’s lawyers also pointed to other examples of what they called “spurious statements” by Jones in the past, including his conspiracy...

Business Digest: Tests find Samsung’s S8 phones prone to screen cracks

TECHNOLOGY Tests find Samsung’s S8 phones prone to screen cracks NEW YORK — Samsung’s latest phones feature big wraparound screens and lots of glass. They also appear to break more easily, according to tests run by SquareTrade, a company that sells gadget-repair plans. The nearly all-glass design of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus makes them beautiful, SquareTrade said, but...
Whole Foods’ 365 stores set for Central Texas debut

Whole Foods’ 365 stores set for Central Texas debut

For years, Austin-based Whole Foods Market has worked to shed its too-expensive, “Whole Paycheck” reputation. The latest attempt is the fledgling 365 by Whole Foods Market chain, which opens its fourth store at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Cedar Park. Ahead of the opening, an estimated 3,000 people showed up Sunday for a “parking lot party” with entertainment and food and drinks. Whole...
Report: Albertsons considers takeover bid for Whole Foods

Report: Albertsons considers takeover bid for Whole Foods

Supermarket chain Albertsons is exploring a possible takeover of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, the Financial Times is reporting, citing unnamed sources. Albertsons, which operates about 2,200 stores, is controlled by buyout group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus has had preliminary talks with bankers about making a bid for Whole Foods, the Financial Times reported, citing a person close to...
Rising demand builds optimism among Texas manufacturers

Rising demand builds optimism among Texas manufacturers

Texas factory activity expanded again in April as manufacturers saw an increase in orders and kept hiring to fulfill the growing demand, according to a monthly report released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The state production index, a key measure of business at plants statewide, dipped to a reading of 15.4 in April from 18.6 the prior month, according to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook...
Report: Albertsons considers takeover bid for Austin-based Whole Foods

Report: Albertsons considers takeover bid for Austin-based Whole Foods

Supermarket chain Albertsons is exploring a possible takeover of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, the Financial Times is reporting, citing unnamed sources. Albertsons, which operates about 2,200 stores, is controlled by buyout group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus has had preliminary talks with bankers about making a bid for Whole Foods, the Financial Times reported, citing a person close to...
In Austin, Mexican official talks NAFTA with Texas Republicans

In Austin, Mexican official talks NAFTA with Texas Republicans

Mexico’s secretary of the economy last week met with Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Joe Straus in Austin in an effort to encourage U.S. politicians who support free trade to tout the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement as President Donald Trump seeks to amend or abolish the landmark 1994 accord. Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, an economist and politician with Mexico&rsquo...

The power of the economic viewpoint

It’s 10 weeks since I began writing this column. I’ve received lots of emails from readers and want to respond to some questions. But first I’d like to clarify where I’m coming from in writing about what may seem like an unusual mix of big- and small-picture topics. I’m a passionate but frustrated economist. I see economics’ enormous unused potential to address...

Up the Ladder

Technology National Instruments has named Karen Rapp chief financial officer. Banker’s Toolbox has named Ashley Womack chief financial officer. Growth Acceleration Partners named Michelle Schwalbach chief financial officer. Q2 Holdings has named Lynn Atchison to its board of directors. Serenova has named Stuart Clark chief information security officer.
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

FARM FUNDING Austin’s Vital Farms gets funding boost to continue growth: A decade ago, Matthew O’Hayer started a pasture-raised egg business with 20 hens in Southeast Austin. Since then, the company has grown to a network of 100 family-owned farms in seven states, and its eggs are sold in 49 states. Vital Farms is the largest supplier of pasture-raised eggs to Whole Foods Market, and customers...
Austin’s Credit Shop grows into major player in credit card industry

Austin’s Credit Shop grows into major player in credit card industry

Daniel Duncan left the financial capital of the world for the high-tech capital of Texas in 1992, opting for Austin’s laid-back lifestyle and a chance to launch a venture that blended his finance expertise with the technical resources here. He still enjoys life in Central Texas, and his latest startup still features a vital high-tech component. But the firm, Credit Shop Inc., is steering him...
Austin employers boost hiring, but jobless rolls remain elevated

Austin employers boost hiring, but jobless rolls remain elevated

Austin-area employers keep adding jobs fast enough to absorb the region’s expanding labor pool, but recent workforce data suggest a job market that’s increasingly skewed toward skilled workers despite the region’s broad-based payroll growth. While the competition for white-collar and high-tech talent raged on during the first quarter of 2017, the number of unemployed workers &mdash...

Business Digest: Austin-area gas prices up 3 cents this week

FUEL Austin-area gas prices up 3 cents this week Austin-area gas prices continued climbing this week, according to auto club AAA Texas. The average local price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.23, according to AAA Texas. The average local price per gallon has now risen 14 cents in the past three weeks, according to AAA Texas data. The price this week is 38 cents more than the same...
Whole Foods’ new 365 concept set to make Central Texas debut

Whole Foods’ new 365 concept set to make Central Texas debut

A Sunday parking lot party will kick off opening week festivities for the new 365 by Whole Foods Market store in Cedar Park. The free event will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., featuring food and live music. The 30,000-square-foot store – the first 365 location in Texas and the first 365 store anywhere to be built from the ground up – is set to open its doors at 9 a.m. Wednesday. It&rsquo...

Bikinis owner goes digital to sell Texas dance hall

Austin businessman Doug Guller decided to go digital to sell off a historical Texas dance hall. Guller — who owns Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill, among other business interests — listed Schroeder Hall in Goliad (near Victoria) on eBay this month, attracting 192 bids from 25 bidders. “The great thing about putting it on eBay is that it gives me a much wider net to find a buyer,&rdquo...
Commentary: Pass tax reform to cultivate growth of small businesses

Commentary: Pass tax reform to cultivate growth of small businesses

In 1989, my mother and I started a business out of our garage. We worked hard, raised money to get our business started and developed an office chair based on my dad’s expertise in ergonomics. We still believe it’s the best chair on the market. Two years later, as our business was gaining steam, we discovered an unwelcome surprise: We owed an additional $86,000 in taxes on top of what...
Bikinis owner uses online auction to sell Texas dance hall

Bikinis owner uses online auction to sell Texas dance hall

A historical Texas dance hall has been sold for almost half a million dollars in an online auction. Austin businessman Doug Guller, founder of ATX Brands, listed Schroeder Hall in Goliad – 26 miles southwest of Victoria – on eBay this month, attracting 192 bids from 25 bidders. Guller had owned the dance hall, which dates back to the 1890s, since 2014. “The great thing about putting...
FOR SALE: Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer’s Austin-area estate

FOR SALE: Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer’s Austin-area estate

Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer’s Georgetown mansion can be yours — for $2.235 million. It might be pricey, but it’s a reduction from the $2.5 million that the 2.7-acre gated property was listed for before it was taken off the market last year, said Megan DiBartolo, a real estate agent with The Winnett Group Inc., told the American-Statesman. She said the Williamson County property...
NEW NOW: March job growth sends Austin’s jobless rate lower

NEW NOW: March job growth sends Austin’s jobless rate lower

A broad cross-section of Central Texas employers ramped up the pace of local job creation in March, helping nudge the metro area’s unemployment rate lower. Austin-area employers added 9,500 jobs during the month, expanding payrolls by a stronger-than-average 0.9 percent during the month, according to preliminary data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission. The region’s overall...
Central Texas home sales decline in March

Central Texas home sales decline in March

Home sales in the Austin area dipped in March year-over-year, while the median home-sales price climbed more than 5 percent, the latest figures show. The Austin Board of Realtors said 2,509 houses changed hands last month, down 1.4 percent from March 2016. Half of the residences sold for more than $295,767 and half for less, for a 5.6 percent rise in the median home-sale price, the board said. It...
Party kicks off opening events for Cedar Park 365 by Whole Foods store

Party kicks off opening events for Cedar Park 365 by Whole Foods store

A parking lot party Sunday will kick off opening week festivities for the new 365 by Whole Foods Market store in Cedar Park. The free event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring food and live music. The 30,000-square-foot store – the first 365 location in Texas – is set to open its doors at 9 a.m. Wednesday. It’s located in The Parke, a new shopping center at 5001 183A toll...
Commentary: ‘Blue tarp bills’ threaten Texas property owners

Commentary: ‘Blue tarp bills’ threaten Texas property owners

Your property rights are under assault at the Texas Capitol. Insurance lobbyists and their allies at the self-styled “Texans for Lawsuit Reform” are pushing legislation that will mean insurance companies pay you as little as late as possible for claims. House Bill 1774 and Senate Bill 10, better known as the “blue tarp bills,” strengthen the hand of insurance companies in property-claims...
SPRING SLIP: Central Texas home sales slide in March

SPRING SLIP: Central Texas home sales slide in March

Home sales in the Austin metro area dipped in March year-over-year, while the median home-sales price climbed more than 5 percent, the latest figures show. The Austin Board of Realtors said 2,509 homes changed hands last month, down 1.4 percent from March 2016. Half of the residences sold for more than $295,767 and half for less, for a 5.6 percent rise in the median sales price, the board said. Within...

Business Digest: Central Texas hotels hit by data breach

DATA SECURITY 13 Central Texas hotels hit by data breach One of the largest hotel operators in the world is cautioning guests that malware was deployed at a number of franchised locations to obtain credit card information. InterContinental Hotel Group says it believes the malware could have harvested names, credit card numbers, expiration dates and verification dates between Sept. 29 and Dec. 29....

Austin’s Spectrum customers could lose several Fox networks

Several popular Fox-owned cable networks could soon disappear from the Spectrum cable lineup in Austin and elsewhere across the country if a long-simmering feud isn’t resolved. Those networks include FX, FXX, FX Movie Channel, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Southwest. Not affected are Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and local Fox stations, such...
Dallas Fed: Oil recovery adds momentum to region’s growing economy

Dallas Fed: Oil recovery adds momentum to region’s growing economy

The energy sector’s continued stabilization, an increase in retail sales and solid demand across a wide spectrum of industries boosted regional economic activity in recent weeks, according to a report Wednesday from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. In its chapter of the Beige Book, an anecdotal survey of the economy compiled every six weeks by the Federal Reserve banks, the Dallas Fed said...
CHECK YOUR CREDIT CARDS: 13 Central Texas hotels hit by data breach

CHECK YOUR CREDIT CARDS: 13 Central Texas hotels hit by data breach

One of the largest hotel operators in the world is cautioning guests that malware was used at many franchised locations to obtain credit card information. InterContinental Hotel Group says it believes the malware may have harvested names, credit card numbers, expiration dates and verification codes between Sept. 29 and Dec. 29. The chain said it was already in the process of implementing enhanced...
Austin’s Vital Farms raises $11 million to continue growth

Austin’s Vital Farms raises $11 million to continue growth

A decade ago, Matthew O’Hayer started a pasture-raised egg business with 20 hens in Southeast Austin. Since then, the company has grown to a network of 100 family-owned farms in seven states, and its eggs are sold in 49 states. Vital Farms is the largest supplier of pasture-raised eggs to Whole Foods Market, and customers include H-E-B, Safeway, Target and Wal-Mart. Now, the company is getting...
Commentary: Without globalization, adios ‘Texas miracle’

Commentary: Without globalization, adios ‘Texas miracle’

Texas’ outsized economic success is sometimes referred to as the “Texas miracle.” Since 1990, the state has added over 5 million jobs, growing nearly twice as fast as the nation. The numbers for 2017 show Texas growing at an annual rate near 3 percent. Today’s Texas economy rose out of the ashes of the 1980s oil bust and banking crisis and has been one of the biggest economic...
As Tesla bills stall, Lege weighs loophole for Buffett

As Tesla bills stall, Lege weighs loophole for Buffett

The latest effort by Tesla Inc. to sell the electric cars that it makes directly to Texas consumers appears to have stalled in the Legislature, even as a bid by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to win an exception to the strict regulations preventing automobile manufacturers from also owning dealerships is racing forward. Senate Bill 2279 — filed Tuesday by state Sen. Kelly Hancock...

Business Digest: U.S. industrial production jumps in March

ECONOMY U.S. industrial production jumps in March WASHINGTON — U.S. industrial production posted a solid gain in March, reflecting a record rebound in utility output. But a closely watched gauge of manufacturing posted its first setback in seven months as auto production dropped sharply. The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that industrial production rose 0.5 percent, propelled by an 8.6 percent...
N.Y. firm’s investment will speed growth of Torchy’s Tacos

N.Y. firm’s investment will speed growth of Torchy’s Tacos

Austin-based Torchy’s Tacos has teamed with a New York equity firm to help speed the chain’s growth. The firm, General Atlantic, has taken “a significant minority interest,” Torchy’s management said Tuesday. Specific financial details of the investment, which is expected to close in the third quarter, weren’t released. Torchy’s, which got its start with a...
Texas job program shows unusually strong, lasting gains, study finds

Texas job program shows unusually strong, lasting gains, study finds

A new study finds that the model for a handful of workforce-training initiatives in Texas — including one in Austin — not only lifted low-income residents to middle-class careers, it also led to earnings advantages that expanded over time, making it perhaps the first job-training program in the country to show sustained increases. According to the study, the average annual income for people...
Senate panel weighs future of state’s tax abatement law

Senate panel weighs future of state’s tax abatement law

During a state Senate committee hearing Tuesday, there was broad agreement that high property taxes in Texas are a big potential impediment to businesses that might consider relocating here. But there was less agreement on whether the Texas Economic Development Act — a 16-year-old law that allows school districts to waive a portion of a company’s property tax bill for a decade in exchange...
Torchy’s Tacos is growing fast. New partners from NY want to help it grow faster.

Torchy’s Tacos is growing fast. New partners from NY want to help it grow faster.

Austin-based Torchy’s Tacos has teamed with a New York equity firm to help speed the chain’s growth. The firm, General Atlantic, has taken “a significant minority interest,” Torchy’s management said Tuesday. Specific details of the investment, which is expected to close in the third quarter, weren’t released. Torchy’s, which got its start with a single food...
Austin-based maker of SkinnyPop sues to block ‘skinny’ competitor

Austin-based maker of SkinnyPop sues to block ‘skinny’ competitor

The Austin-based company behind SkinnyPop popcorn is trying to keep a competitor from launching a similarly named product in the U.S. In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Austin, Amplify Snack Brands Inc. says a subsidiary of Charlotte, N.C.-based snack food giant Snyder’s-Lance is preparing to roll out a new offering here that, according to trademark applications, will be known as Metcalfe&rsquo...

Business Digest: Bass Pro Shops, Cabela agree to tweak deal

RETAIL Bass Pro Shops, Cabela tweak deal to appease regulators SIDNEY, Neb. — Bass Pro Shops acquisition of rival outdoor gear retailer Cabela’s looks a bit more likely with a cheaper price and new terms of the credit card unit’s sale. Cabela’s said Monday that Bass Pro will pay $61.50 per share, or $4.2 billion, for the company, down from $65.50 per share, or $4.5 billion...
Cornyn plans bill aimed at reining in licensing rules

Cornyn plans bill aimed at reining in licensing rules

Gordon Logan, founder and chief executive of the Sport Clips hair salon chain, has a quick test for anyone who thinks the myriad nationwide regulations governing occupational licenses make sense. “I ask them to tell me, are there more world-class hairstylists in New York or Des Moines?” Logan said. Those who pick New York are generally surprised to discover that Iowa mandates a minimum...

To lure recruits, Austin firms look for higher-end digs

In the Austin metro area’s office market, real estate experts say they are noticing a “flight to quality” trend — tenants looking for better office pace in an effort to attract and retain talent. “Demand is greatest for newer space in well located areas,” said Diana Holford, senior vice president in Austin with commercial real estate firm JLL. “Walkable amenities...
Austin office market still strong despite uptick in vacancy

Austin office market still strong despite uptick in vacancy

The occupancy rate in Central Texas’ office market softened slightly in the first quarter compared to a year ago but rents are still on the rise, a new industry report shows. In its quarterly office market report, Cushman & Wakefield said the occupancy rate for top-tier space (Class A) averaged 90.1 percent at the end of March, down from 91.3 percent on average as of March 2016. Rents for the...
Apple on track to test self-driving cars in California

Apple on track to test self-driving cars in California

Apple is on track to begin testing self-driving cars in California.  The tech giant was added to a long list of companies on the California Department of Motor Vehicles website that hold permits for the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program. Apple, traditionally highly secretive about its technology, joins companies like Google, Tesla, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and others, that are testing...

Austin’s flow of venture capital slows in 1st quarter

A new report on venture capital activity in Austin confirms what many entrepreneurs already know: The flow of money into Central Texas startups has slowed, making this a challenging time to raise money. Investments in Austin-area companies plunged 58 percent in the first three months of the year, compared with the same period a year ago, according to a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights...
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

RETAILMENOT DEAL Austin’s RetailMeNot being sold in $630 million deal: Austin-based online coupon company RetailMeNot, one of Austin’s most high-profile publicly held software companies, agreed last week to be acquired in a deal the company said is valued at $630 million. San Antonio-based Harland Clarke Holdings Corp. is buying all the outstanding shares of RetailMeNot common stock at...
DPR: Contractor booming with Central Texas’ economy

DPR: Contractor booming with Central Texas’ economy

Amid Central Texas’ ongoing building boom, DPR Construction is one of the region’s busiest construction firms, with an ever-expanding list of high-profile projects bearing its banner. Current projects for the company include Charles Schwab’s new Gracy Farms campus in North Austin; a 32-story tower at Seventh Street and Congress Avenue in downtown Austin that will house Aloft and...

Our ongoing search for the best financial advice

Some of you have been wondering: What’s the deal with the recent parade of personal finance columnists in the American-Statesman’s Sunday Business section? It’s a fair question, so here’s a deeper explanation for what are we doing with our Sunday Business section, why we are doing it — and what we are trying to accomplish. First, some background. Scott Burns, our longtime...

Up the Ladder

Health care UnitedHealthcare has named Dave Milich chief executive officer of the company’s commercial business in Texas. CommUnityCare Health Centers has named Jaeson Fournier chief executive officer. St. David’s HealthCare has named Sheila Fata chief nursing executive for the seven-hospital healthcare system. Technology Newgistics has named Stuart Spiegel chief marketing officer. Iconixx...

As tax day looms, some tips you can use

We have until April 18 to file our taxes this year. I know no one who likes paying taxes, even though Uncle Sam badly needs every penny. If everyone paid their fair tax share, it would be one thing. But they don’t. The biggest offenders are the super-rich. They have a simple, legal means to pay zero taxes. Invest in assets, like land, that pay out zero taxable income and borrow against this...
As tech firms aim for diversity, the going is slow

As tech firms aim for diversity, the going is slow

Despite increasing efforts, tech companies with major Austin operations are still struggling to recruit women, African-American and Hispanic workers, according to the companies’ own reports. The American- Statesman sought to attain workforce diversity reports of every tech company that employs more than 1,000 people in Austin. Of the 15 companies contacted, 10 disclosed demographic data. That...
Another Yeti suit: Company targets tumbler maker and Home Depot

Another Yeti suit: Company targets tumbler maker and Home Depot

Austin-based Yeti Coolers is hauling two more companies to court, accusing them of selling “confusingly similar” products that Yeti contends violate its trademarks. This time, Home Depot USA Inc. and Takeya USA Corp. have been sued in federal court in Austin. The case was filed this week, records show. This is at least the fifth lawsuit Yeti has filed against a competitor in recent months...

Business Digest: Austin-area gas prices rise 4 cents this week

FUEL Austin-area gas prices rise 4 cents this week Austin-area gas prices continued their climb this week, according to auto club AAA Texas. The average local price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 4 cents to $2.20, according to AAA Texas. That comes after the average price per gallon rose 7 cents the previous week. The price this week is 37 cents more than the same week last year, when the average...
Former AMD campus part of planned $135 million project

Former AMD campus part of planned $135 million project

Plans for a 77-acre, $135 million corporate campus are taking shape in Southeast Austin, spearheaded by Riverside Resources, a local developer with a growing number of high-profile projects. The Austin-based developer plans to construct three new buildings on 18.5 acres that were part of AMD’s former office campus at 5900 E. Ben White Blvd. Riverside Resources, a real estate development, investment...
Texas Insurance Commissioner David Mattax dies of cancer

Texas Insurance Commissioner David Mattax dies of cancer

David Mattax, who served as commissioner of the Texas Department of Insurance since then-Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to the position in January 2015 after a lengthy career at the Texas Attorney General’s Office, has died of cancer. He was 60. In a written statement, Gov. Greg Abbott called Mattax “a friend, colleague and distinguished public servant.” Mattax spent 23 years at the...
Austin sees 1st quarter dip in venture funding

Austin sees 1st quarter dip in venture funding

The flow of money into Central Texas startups slowed down in the first quarter, a new report on venture capital activity in Austin shows. Investments in Austin-area companies plunged 58 percent in the first three months of the year, compared to the same period a year ago, according to a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights. A total of 15 companies received a combined $114 million during...

NEW: Austin’s Forestar Group being sold in $605 million deal

Austin-based Forestar Group has agreed to be acquired by Starwood Capital group in a deal worth about $605 million, according to the companies. Connecticut-based Starwood has agreed to pay $14.25 per share for all outstanding shares of Forestar Group’s common stock, the companies said, which would be a roughly 8 percent premium over Forestar Group’s average share price over the past three...

Business Digest: Austin medical company lands $2M in funding

VENTURE FUNDING Austin medical company lands $2M in funding Austin-based Consortia Health Holdings Inc. said Thursday it had closed a $2 million preferred round of financing. The round was led by Ponil Ventures, a current investor, and included Golden Seeds and Belle Michigan as new investors. Consortia Health Holdings is a health care company that helps U.S. physicians treat patients dealing with...
Austin City Council approves incentives to bring Merck tech center

Austin City Council approves incentives to bring Merck tech center

The Austin City Council voted 7-3 Thursday to approve an incentives package potentially worth up to $856,000 to pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., which is promising to bring at least 600 new jobs to the city. The agreement, Austin’s first major corporate incentives grant since 2014, would pay $200 a year for each full-time job that Merck creates and retains under the 10-year...
Divided Austin City Council backs Merck incentives deal

Divided Austin City Council backs Merck incentives deal

The Austin City Council voted 7-3 Thursday to approve an incentives package potentially worth up to $856,000 to pharmaceutical giant Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., which is promising to bring at least 600 new jobs to the city. The agreement, Austin’s first major corporate incentives grant since 2014, would pay $200 a year for each full-time job that Merck creates and retains under the 10-year contract...
After neighbor complaints, East Austin’s Sekrit Theater is for sale for $3.5 million

After neighbor complaints, East Austin’s Sekrit Theater is for sale for $3.5 million

After complaints from neighbors, an East Austin man is putting his secret theater — or “Sekrit Theater” — up for sale. Beau Reichert, who has owned the property on Perry Road for about a decade, announced the sale on Facebook last month. Reichert originally moved to build an art studio (his doctor said it would help him make friends—Reichert has Asperger&rsquo...
Bill to cut state’s business tax advances in Texas House

Bill to cut state’s business tax advances in Texas House

A plan to phase out the state’s main business tax has advanced in the Texas House, potentially providing lawmakers who want to eliminate the tax with a choice between it and a Senate proposal that would accomplish the same goal under a different time frame and formula. The House plan to end the franchise tax — House Bill 28, authored by state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton — was...
El Arroyo sign tackles Pepsi, United and Sean Spicer — all at once

El Arroyo sign tackles Pepsi, United and Sean Spicer — all at once

El Arroyo, a Tex-Mex restaurant in downtown Austin but also the city's collective id, loves a good sign. Their signature marquee weighs in on everything from clown epidemics to the presidential election to the perfect Christmas gift with a pithy zinger. After a banner week for public gaffes, then, it would have been shocking if the restaurant had not managed to squeeze Pepsi, United...

Business Digest: H-E-B says it is now Texas’ largest private employer

RETAIL H-E-B says it is now Texas’ largest private employer H-E-B, with more than 100,000 workers, is now Texas’ largest private employer, the company announced this week. The San Antonio-based grocery chain now employs more than 90,000 people in 325 stores across Texas and some 10,000 in 56 stores in Mexico. Those counts will change in 2017, however, as the company plans on adding nine...
Report: Amazon considered bid to buy Whole Foods

Report: Amazon considered bid to buy Whole Foods

Online retail giant Amazon.com last year considered making a takeover bid for Austin-based Whole Foods Market Inc., but decided not to pursue a deal, Bloomberg news service reported, citing unnamed sources. Citing a person with knowledge of the situation, Bloomberg reports that Amazon considered whether Whole Foods would help invigorate its push into groceries, but that the discussions never turned...

Texas farmers support bill to make hemp a potential cash crop

Hemp, the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana, has some fans among Texas farmers. A number of them turned out Wednesday for a House committee hearing at the Capitol to support a bill defining so-called “industrial hemp” as legally distinct from marijuana. The bill, House Bill 3587, would allow hemp to be grown and marketed in Texas under a federal pilot program in which 31 other states...

Business Digest: RetailMeNot’s share soar on acquisition news

E-COMMERCE RetailMeNot’s share soar on acquisition news Austin-based online coupon company RetailMeNot saw its stock rocket up nearly 50 percent on Tuesday, a day after it agreed to be acquired by San Antonio-based payment and marketing company Harland Clark Holdings. RetailMeNot’s shares jumped a whopping 48.4 percent, or $3.75, to close Tuesday at $11.50. Harland Clark Holdings has agreed...
Fantasy sports bill advances in Texas Legislature

Fantasy sports bill advances in Texas Legislature

A bill legalizing for-profit fantasy sports leagues in Texas has gained some yards in the state Legislature. House Bill 1487, co-authored by state Rep. Richard Pena Raymond, D-Laredo, was approved on a 6-1 vote this week by the House Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures, although it remains unclear when or if it will be taken up by the full House for a vote. State Rep. John Frullo, R-Lubbock...

Business Digest: Yellen: Economy close to achieving Fed goals

ECONOMY Yellen: Economy close to achieving Fed goals ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the central bank is moving close to achieving its goals on employment and inflation. Her remarks could be seen as providing support for gradual increases in interest rates. While expressing satisfaction with how the economy is performing, Yellen did voice concerns about moves in...
Major Whole Foods investor has to-do list for company

Major Whole Foods investor has to-do list for company

JANA Partners LLC, now one of the biggest investors in Whole Foods Market, doesn’t appear willing to wait for the grocer to complete a turnaround and wants the company to consider all its options – including a possible sale. A number of factors, including intensified competition, have hit the Austin-based grocer hard, leading to struggles in recent quarters. A March report from a Barclays...
One of Whole Foods’ biggest investors has to-do list for grocer

One of Whole Foods’ biggest investors has to-do list for grocer

JANA Partners LLC, now one of the biggest investors in Whole Foods Market, doesn’t appear willing to wait for the grocer to complete a turnaround and wants the company to consider all its options – including a possible sale. A number of factors, including intensified competition, have hit the Austin-based grocer hard, leading to struggles in recent quarters. A March report from a Barclays...

Up the Ladder

Health care CommUnityCare Health Centers has named Jaeson Fournier chief executive officer. Law firms DLA Piper has named Caryn Smith a partner in its Austin office. Technology Xplore Technologies has named Mark Holleran chief executive officer. JustLegal has named Frank Robles chief technology officer. WP Engine has named Annette Alexander chief people officer.
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

PROPERTY VALUES Travis County’s taxable home values climb 8 percent for 2017: The average home value in Travis County rose nearly 8 percent for 2017, reflecting the continued strength in Central Texas’ housing market, the Travis Central Appraisal District said last week. The 7.9 percent increase pushed the average taxable value to $307,997, up from $285,332 last year, Chief Appraiser...
NYSE execs talk Austin, national IPO activity

NYSE execs talk Austin, national IPO activity

A day before their April 4 meeting with President Donald Trump and members of Congress, executives from the New York Stock Exchange stopped by Austin to meet with political and business leaders in Texas. During their visit, NYSE President Tom Farley and John Tuttle, the exchange’s global head of listings, spoke with the American-Statesman. They discussed a range of issues, including the NYSE&rsquo...
Hiring slows, but U.S. unemployment falls to 10-year low

Hiring slows, but U.S. unemployment falls to 10-year low

U.S. employers cut back sharply on hiring in March, yet Friday’s jobs report still had much to be encouraged about, including a drop in the unemployment rate to 4.5 percent, the lowest in a decade. Employers added just 98,000 jobs, the Labor Department said. It was barely half the previous month’s gain. Yet unemployment dropped from 4.7 percent, reaching its lowest point since May 2007...

Austin’s Weed-Corley-Fish funeral home negotiating possible sale

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Homes & Cremation Services is in negotiations to be acquired by Service Corporation International, a Houston-based giant in the funeral industry, potentially ending more than 100 years of family ownership and reducing Austin’s roster of independently owned funeral homes by one of its largest members. The deal could close within a week, according to Laurens Fish III,...
Hyundai, Kia recall 1.4M vehicles; engines can fail

Hyundai, Kia recall 1.4M vehicles; engines can fail

Hyundai and Kia are recalling 1.4 million cars and SUVs in the U.S., Canada and South Korea because the engines can fail and stall, increasing the risk of a crash. The recall covers some of the Korean automakers’ most popular models in the U.S. and Canada including 2013 and 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUVs and Sonata midsize cars. Also covered are Kia Optima midsize cars from 2011 through 2014...
Consumer borrowing up solid $15.2 billion in February

Consumer borrowing up solid $15.2 billion in February

Consumers stepped up their borrowing in February as a rebound in the use of credit cards offset a slowdown in auto and student loans. Total borrowing rose $15.2 billion in February, the biggest gain in three months and an acceleration from January’s increase of $10.9 billion, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. The jump came in the category that covers credit cards, where borrowing rose $2...
Rappers becoming fixtures on food scene

Rappers becoming fixtures on food scene

Rapper Snoop Dogg furiously stirred flour into a creamy bechamel sauce, a whisk in one hand and a microphone in the other during a cooking demonstration with chef Guy Fieri. He tossed herbs into the mac and cheese and spicy wing dishes with the dramatic flair of Emeril Lagasse, raising his hands in the air, spinning around after taste tests and occasionally singing lines from songs like “Drop...
Google expands fact checking in news searches

Google expands fact checking in news searches

Google will expand the use of “fact check” tags in its search results — the tech industry’s latest effort to combat false and misleading news stories. People who search for a topic in Google’s main search engine or the Google News section will see a conclusion such as “mostly true” or “false” next to stories that have been fact checked. Google...

Business digest: Vote out most of Wells Fargo’s board, firm says

BANKING Advisory firm: Vote out most of Wells Fargo’s board An influential firm that advises big shareholders is saying that the majority of Wells Fargo’s board of directors should be removed at the bank’s annual shareholder meeting this month, accusing the board of having a lack of oversight over the bank’s sales practices. Institutional Shareholder Services said Friday that...
Hill Country Galleria wraps up $16 million renovation

Hill Country Galleria wraps up $16 million renovation

The Hill Country Galleria is ready to take the wraps off a $16 million renovation project that has dramatically transformed the 1.3 million-square-foot Bee Cave shopping center. The unveiling will be Saturday, when visitors will be treated to a day filled with festivities beginning at 2 p.m., including live music, a fashion show, samples of food from the Hill Country Galleria’s many bars and...
With a week to go, online bids for Texas dance hall approach $250,000

With a week to go, online bids for Texas dance hall approach $250,000

With about a week to go, online bids for a Texas dance hall an Austin businessman is looking to unload are approaching a quarter of a million dollars. Doug Guller, founder of ATX Brands, has listed Schroeder Hall in Schroeder – 17 miles east of Victoria – on online auction site eBay, where 132 bids have been placed so far. As of Friday morning, the highest bid was $220,100. The auction...

Business Digest: Austin-area gas prices rise 7 cents

FUEL Austin-area gas prices rise 7 cents Austin-area gas prices surged higher this this week, according to auto club AAA Texas. The average local price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 7 cents to $2.16, according to AAA Texas. The price this week is 32 cents more than the same week last year, when the average price per gallon was $1.84, according to AAA Texas data. Global markets saw an increase...
Key element of Austin housing plan in jeopardy at Capitol

Key element of Austin housing plan in jeopardy at Capitol

A plan calling for the city of Austin to raise $600 million to buy and preserve affordable housing for minorities may face a formidible hurdle before it can be implemented: The Texas Legislature. A city task force — created by Mayor Steve Adler in November to address issues of institutional racism in Austin — released dozens of proposals this week, including a recommendation that the city...

Business Digest: Payless Shoesource closing 4 Central Texas stores

RETAIL Payless Shoesource closing 4 Central Texas stores Struggling retailer Payless Shoesource is closing about 400 “underperforming” stores nationwide after filing for bankruptcy this week. More than 50 of those stores are in Texas, including four in Central Texas, according to a list released Wednesday. The closing Central Texas locations are: Barton Creek Square mall...

Capital One closing some Texas branches

Capital One is continuing to close branches across Texas as it directs customers to use its online banking services and ATMs instead. Several of the branches that have closed are in Central Texas, according to filings with the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, including: 11720 N. RM 620, Austin 221 E. Parmer Lane, Austin 7200 N. MoPac Blvd. (Loop 1)...
Struggling Payless Shoesource closing 4 Central Texas stores

Struggling Payless Shoesource closing 4 Central Texas stores

Struggling retailer Payless Shoesource is immediately closing about 400 “underperforming” stores nationwide after filing for bankruptcy this week. More than 50 of those stores are in Texas, including four in Central Texas, according to a list released Wednesday. The closing Central Texas locations are: Barton Creek Square mall, 2901 S. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360)...

Business Digest: N.Y. firm acquires Austin agency Leverage PR

PUBLIC RELATIONS N.Y. firm acquires Austin agency Leverage PR Leverage PR, an Austin marketing and public relations firm, has been acquired by New York-based Caliber Corporate Advisers, the two companies said Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Founded in 2010 by Joy Schoffler, Leverage PR focuses primarily on serving clients in the financial services, technology and real...
Travis County’s taxable home values climb 8% for 2017

Travis County’s taxable home values climb 8% for 2017

The average home value in Travis County rose nearly 8 percent for 2017, reflecting the continued strength in Central Texas’ housing market, the Travis Central Appraisal District said Tuesday. The 7.9 percent increase pushed the average taxable value to $307,997, up from $285,332 last year, Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler said in releasing the preliminary figures. The taxable value is the market...
Deal finalized to acquire Austin public relations firm Leverage PR

Deal finalized to acquire Austin public relations firm Leverage PR

Leverage PR, an Austin marketing and public relations firm, has been acquired by New York-based Caliber Corporate Advisers, the two companies said Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Founded in 2010 by Joy Schoffler, Leverage PR focuses primarily on serving clients in the financial services, technology and real estate sectors. It has, over the years, worked with more than...
Influential Austin banker Holt calls it a career

Influential Austin banker Holt calls it a career

Joe Holt, a prominent Austin banker who helped steer the city’s evolution from a college town known for live music and football into a business and technology hub, is retiring after 45 years at what is now Chase. “We’re very proud that we played a part in that,” Holt, 67, said Tuesday, calling “the belief we had in the promise of the city of Austin” among his best...
More Business Stories