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Business


Improving energy sector helps region’s economic activity rise

Strong demand across a wide swath of Texas industry, including the improving energy sector, helped boost regional economic growth, 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 the economic activity in its district “expanded...
Commentary: Texas Education Agency rankings are a work in progress

Commentary: Texas Education Agency rankings are a work in progress

Scheberle is senior vice president for education and talent at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. On Jan. 6, the Texas Education Agency released a preliminary report card for schools based on its new accountability system. It was a promising start. However, before we read too much into what receiving an “A” or an “F” means on any of the individual performance measures, there are...

Business Digest: Three Austin TV stations get new owner

BROADCASTING 3 Austin TV stations get new owner A year after it was first announced, Irving-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. said Monday that it has completed its acquisition of fellow broadcaster Media General Inc. Richmond, Va.-based Media General operates three Austin TV stations: NBC affiliate KXAN, CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO. The $4.6 billion deal makes Nexstar the...
Now appearing at Strange Brew: Locked doors, ‘for lease’ sign

Now appearing at Strange Brew: Locked doors, ‘for lease’ sign

Say so long to Strange Brew? What the popular South Austin music venue and coffee shop first described as a temporary closure last week increasingly appears to be permanent, with its doors still locked and a “for lease” sign now posted in the parking lot. Employees and musicians were taken by surprise Thursday when landlord Republic Commercial Properties locked the doors of the business...
Whole Foods closing 3 regional kitchens, trimming 500 jobs

Whole Foods closing 3 regional kitchens, trimming 500 jobs

Austin-based grocer Whole Foods Market said Monday that it will shutter three regional kitchens along the East Coast as part of an ongoing corporate consolidation effort. Combined, the facilities in Everett, Mass.; Landover, Md.; and metro Atlanta employ about 500 people, Whole Foods spokeswoman Betsy Harden said. The company has more than 87,000 employees worldwide. The affected employees were given...
PEC board rebukes, but doesn’t remove, director for controversial post

PEC board rebukes, but doesn’t remove, director for controversial post

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative board of directors voted to reprimand one of its directors for a controversial Facebook statement and demote him from a leadership position on the board — a move that some critics, who called for his removal from the board, said did not go far enough. The disciplinary action stemmed from a comment director James Oakley made in November that it was “time...

Some investments aren’t worth the trouble

I am 62 and have about $700,000 in savings. Half is invested in Vanguard Balanced Index Fund, half in cash. I have no debt and no income need now, but I will need about $2,000 a month at age 65. I feel this stock market is getting real tired. I’m thinking of selling $100,000 of VBINX and buying a three-year deferred annuity. I’d buy an annuity with a five-year payout of $1,800 a month...
For Texas business leaders, session may have familiar look

For Texas business leaders, session may have familiar look

For Texas business leaders, there might be a “Groundhog Day” feel to the just-started legislative session. In that 1993 movie, Bill Murray’s character lived the same day over and over again. And in this session — just like in 2015 — the state’s business sector finds itself focused on the same priorities it went to battle over in the last session: the state&rsquo...
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

TEXAS ECONOMY Dallas Fed: State economy to pick up in 2017, but modestly: The Texas economy and labor market should grow a little sunnier this year, but a few of the dark clouds that gathered in the past two years will linger into 2017, according to economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Texas should expand payrolls by 2 percent this year, about 242,000 jobs, senior economist Keith Phillips...

The ‘be careful what you wish for’ economy

In an ideal world, everyone would save money so they could take care of their own retirement. Some would call this a Jeffersonian ideal. Others might say it is a Republican core belief. But it’s a widely admired idea. It is most admired by those who feel closer to the ideal world than the world in which the rest of us live. Forty years ago, when I started writing this column, I thought lots...
Bathroom bill draws battle lines between GOP, business community

Bathroom bill draws battle lines between GOP, business community

When Texas Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced the filing of the Texas Privacy Act in early January, they pitched it as a move to protect businesses and the privacy of Texans. But as the Texas legislative session gears, up the state’s business community — which has come out in opposition to Senate Bill 6 — will go on the offensive to...

Business Digest: Toyota adds 543,000 vehicles to air bag recall

AUTOMAKERS Toyota adds 543,000 vehicles to air bag recall TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. says it is recalling another 543,000 vehicles in the U.S. for defective front passenger air bag inflators made by Japan’s Takata Corp. Takata is at the center of a massive recall of inflators that can explode in a crash, spewing metal shrapnel inside the vehicles. Toyota said Friday that the recall includes...
North Austin shopping center gets new owner, new tenant

North Austin shopping center gets new owner, new tenant

A new owner is working to breathe life back into a North Austin shopping center that lost its primary tenant a year ago. New York-based RD Management said this week it has acquired Shops at Tech Ridge, at 12901 N. Interstate 35 near East Parmer Lane. The 504,153-square-foot center, which opened in 2003, had been anchored by a SuperTarget store until January 2016, when the retailer shuttered its location...
Drink with a kick: Chuck Norris launches bottled water company 

Drink with a kick: Chuck Norris launches bottled water company 

Even though the former “Walker, Texas Ranger” star isn’t fighting crime on the small screen anymore, Chuck Norris is flexing his muscle in the business world.   The famous martial artist, actor, and frequent subject of jokes regarding superhuman strength is tossing his cowboy hat into the bottled water industry. Norris and his wife Gena are heading up CForce, a line of bottled...

Panel recommends reprimand for Pedernales director over Facebook post

A Pedernales Electric Cooperative committee is recommending that one of the utility’s directors who made controversial statements on Facebook be issued a reprimand and be demoted from his leadership position on the co-op’s board. In November, Pedernales Electric director James Oakley wrote on Facebook that it was “time for a tree and a rope” in a post about an African-American...
Report: Austin’s retail sector remains hottest in Texas

Report: Austin’s retail sector remains hottest in Texas

Finding space for all the retailers and restaurants itching to set up shop in Central Texas isn’t easy these days. The region continues to lead the state – and most of the nation – when it comes to retail occupancy, according to new figures from Weitzman, a commercial real estate firm with offices across Texas. As 2016 came to an end, retail occupancy in the Austin area was at 96...

Business Digest: Austin-area gas prices hold steady this week

FUEL Austin-area gas prices hold steady this week After rising steadily in recent weeks, Austin-area gasoline prices held steady this week, according to auto club AAA Texas. The average local price for a gallon of regular gasoline was unchanged at $2.13 per gallon, AAA Texas said. The average price per gallon had risen 22 cents in the previous five weeks, according to AAA Texas data. Gas prices have...

Austin workers protest, denounce Trump’s pick for labor secretary

Austin #Fighfor15 activists and fast-food workers joined in nationwide protests on Thursday to denounce President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Labor Department. Trump nominated Andrew Puzder, the head of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, for labor secretary last month. Around 20 protesters marched along South First Street to a Carl&rsquo...
Maggio returning to Austin’s airwaves with KLRU gig

Maggio returning to Austin’s airwaves with KLRU gig

One of Austin’s best-known broadcasters is returning to city’s airwaves. In her new role as KLRU’s news and public affairs editorial director, you won’t see Judy Maggio every night on the local PBS affiliate, but she will pop up on special broadcasts from time to time. “Now more than ever we know our audiences want to see more local news and public affairs programming...
KVUE anchor swap: Gruca, Culpepper trading spots

KVUE anchor swap: Gruca, Culpepper trading spots

Two of Austin’s best-known television news anchors are swapping shifts. Quita Culpepper, anchor of KVUE’s 5 p.m. newscast, will add the station’s 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. broadcasts to her workload on a permanent basis starting next week. Culpepper will also continue to do her popular “Does It Work Wednesday” consumer segment. Terri Gruca, who currently anchors the 6 p.m. and...

Business Digest: Author, TV execs headline latest SXSW speakers list

SXSW Author, TV execs headline latest SXSW speakers list South by Southwest on Wednesday released another round of featured speakers for the March 10-19 conference. The list includes decluttering author Marie Kondo (”The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”); David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners of the popular series “Game of Thrones” on HBO; futurist Ray Kurzweil (&rdquo...
Operator sought for new restaurant at Republic Square Park

Operator sought for new restaurant at Republic Square Park

With Republic Square in the midst of an extreme makeover, the Downtown Austin Alliance is searching for someone to run a soon-to-open restaurant at the park. The counter-service eatery is expected to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Downtown Austin Alliance said. “The Downtown Austin Alliance, Austin Parks Foundation and City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department are excited to revitalize...
New operator set to take over closed Lakeline Mall theater

New operator set to take over closed Lakeline Mall theater

A vacant theater at Lakeline Mall won’t stay dark for long. AMC Theatres said Wednesday that it will take over the recently closed Regal Lakeline Mall 9 cineplex at 11200 Lakeline Mall Drive. The theater is expected to reopen in nine months, following an extensive remodeling project that will cost several million dollars, according to Simon, Lakeline Mall’s operator. When it debuts in...
Economists: Texas economy to pick up in 2017, but modestly

Economists: Texas economy to pick up in 2017, but modestly

The Texas economy and labor market should grow a little sunnier this year, but a few of the dark clouds that gathered in the past two years will linger into 2017, according to economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Texas employers should expand payrolls by 2 percent this year, about 242,000 jobs, senior economist Keith Phillips said this week in San Antonio. While far lower than the state&rsquo...

Business Digest: Austin adds flights to Indianapolis, Ft. Walton Beach

AIR TRAVEL Austin getting nonstops to Indianapolis, Fort Walton Beach Allegiant Air continues to grow its presence at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, with plans to add nonstop flights to two more destinations. The discount carrier said Tuesday it will start service to Indianapolis, Ind., and Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Fla., this year. The Destin/Fort Walton Beach flights will be seasonal, beginning...
Rainey project lands $100 million-plus in financing

Rainey project lands $100 million-plus in financing

Developers say they have landed more than $100 million in financing as they move ahead with a 34-story luxury residential tower under way on Rainey Street in downtown Austin. Holliday Fenoglio Fowler said it arranged the $106 million construction loan with Acore Capital LP, a commercial real estate finance company, for 70 Rainey, a condominium tower under construction on the south end of Rainey Street...
Austin airport getting nonstops to Indianapolis, Fort Walton Beach

Austin airport getting nonstops to Indianapolis, Fort Walton Beach

Allegiant Air continues to grow its presence at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, with plans to add nonstop flights to two more destinations. The discount carrier said Tuesday it will start service to Indianapolis, Ind., and Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Fla., this year. The Destin/Fort Walton Beach flights will be seasonal, beginning May 4, while Indianapolis service will be year-round, debuting...

Business Digest: Austin tech firm agrees to merger

TECHNOLOGY Austin tech firm agrees to merger JanCom Technologies, an Austin-based technology consulting firm, has merged with IMEG Corp., the companies said Monday. Founded in 1997, JanCom works primarily as a consultant to the architectural community, providing design services for the construction of technology systems. IMEG is a national design consulting firm specializing in building systems, infrastructure...
Asian grocer HMart plans first Austin store

Asian grocer HMart plans first Austin store

A grocery chain known for specializing in Asian delicacies is on its way to Central Texas. HMart plans to open its first Austin store at 11301 Lakeline Blvd., near Lakeline Mall, according to filings with city and state agencies. The store will take over adjoining buildings vacated when Bed Bath & Beyond and Sports Authority left the Parkline shopping center, documents show. Other nearby retailers...

Best defense against rising medical costs: Educate yourself

What about medical expenses when you are retired? I have substantial assets, but I am worried about medical expenses eating up everything before I die. They can be quite costly, even with Medicare. — G.G., Austin Sadly, your concern is entirely reasonable. Even when mediated by insurance, including Medicare, health care costs in America have simply priced themselves beyond what the vast majority...

What’s the best use for a financial windfall?

I’m coming into some money and I have no idea what to do with it. What’s the best way to use a sudden windfall? If you’re like most 20- or 30-somethings, a work bonus or a tax refund can feel like a gold mine. You need a plan so you don’t give yourself a free pass to live like fictional boy billionaire Richie Rich. But if your windfall is from, say, a large inheritance, a settlement...
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

BIKINIS, TEXAS ‘Breastaurant’ chain selling off site near Fredericksburg: The site of a former Hill Country ghost town that was transformed, albeit briefly, into a controversial tourist destination by an Austin-based “breastaurant” chain is now back on the market. ATX Brands, which owns Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill, bought the property in the Fredericksburg area in 2012. The...
Austin’s economy in 2017: Still strong, but facing some challenges

Austin’s economy in 2017: Still strong, but facing some challenges

The Austin economy eased to a more sustainable pace in 2016, but the deceleration deepened throughout the year and appears poised to linger into 2017, as well. To be clear, the metro area continues to enjoy one of the more vibrant regional economies in the country. But job creation and other indicators show that Austin’s growth dropped below its long-term averages, and the numbers suggest few...

Up the Ladder

Energy Parsley Energy has named Jerry Windlinger to its board of directors. Marketing Trendline Interactive has named Derek Harding chief technology officer. Nonprofits Neuropathy Alliance of Texas has named Kelli Craddock executive director. Technology National Instruments has named John Roiko interim chief financial officer. WayBlazer has named Noreen Henry chief executive officer.

Lower-wage workers likely to lose in Social Security reform

I have some advice for our new Republican leadership: Remember Dan Rostenkowski. He was the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in 1989. Angry senior citizens surrounded and nearly attacked him for the Catastrophic Coverage Act. A far larger issue is at hand for 2017, which promises to be a watershed year for the American middle class. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, introduced the Social Security...

Business Digest: Austin gasoline prices rise 6 cents this week

FUEL Austin gasoline prices rise 6 cents this week Austin-area gasoline prices continue heading higher, a new report shows. The average local price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 6 cents this week, taking it to $2.13 per gallon, according to auto club AAA Texas. The average price per gallon has risen 22 cents in the past five weeks, according to AAA Texas data. Gas prices have been moving higher...
Statesman’s owners tap Austin-based Endeavor as redevelopment partner

Statesman’s owners tap Austin-based Endeavor as redevelopment partner

The family that owns the Austin American-Statesman has chosen Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate Group as its partner on a future redevelopment of the prime waterfront property just south of downtown where the newspaper now operates. In choosing Endeavor, the Cox family tapped an experienced developer with large, complex and high-profile retail, office, residential and mixed-use projects throughout...

Business Digest: Austin apartment complex sells for $44.5 million

REAL ESTATE Austin complex sells for $44.5 million A California real estate investment group has purchased a Northwest Austin apartment complex for $44.5 million, the group said Thursday. The group, Steadfast Apartment REIT III Inc. said it has added Canyon Resort at Great Hills to its portfolio. The complex, at 8701 Bluffstone Cove, was built in 1997 has 256 units. Rents average $1,335 per month...
Austin developer buys downtown IHOP site

Austin developer buys downtown IHOP site

A well-known local developer has purchased a high-profile site on the edge of downtown Austin, according to public records. The IHOP at Interstate 35 and East Cesar Chavez Street was acquired late last year by WC 707 Cesar Chavez LLC, an entity the Texas Secretary of State says is linked to World Class Capital Group. A purchase price was not disclosed. The Travis Central Appraisal District valued...
Directors file suit over Pedernales Electric election change

Directors file suit over Pedernales Electric election change

Two directors on the Pedernales Electric Co-Operative board are suing the electric utility provider and their fellow board members for changing the group’s election process to single-district voting. Directors Cristi Clement and Kathryn Scanlon, along with Pedernales Electric member Thomas Mitchell, filed suit against the cooperative and the rest of the board of directors in a Hays County court...
Commentary: Freestanding emergency rooms, medical costs threaten Texas

Commentary: Freestanding emergency rooms, medical costs threaten Texas

Montagne Martin is governmental affairs manager of the Texas Association of Business. Texas’ well-deserved pro-business reputation is being threatened by rising health care costs. Texas and Wisconsin spend more per capita on health care than any other state in the country, according to data from a recent report by the Health Care Cost Institute. Texans are also burdened with the highest out-of-pocket...

Business Digest: Boston firm buys Austin apartment complex

REAL ESTATE Boston firm buys Austin apartment complex A Boston-based firm has purchased Hanover South Lamar, a 340-unit apartment complex just south of downtown Austin. General Investment & Development Companies bought the property on South Lamar Boulevard for an undisclosed price. The company manages more than $16 billion in properties nationwide. Pat Jones, vice chairman of ARA Newmark, represented...