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Community News: Austin provides ‘Smart Start’ to small business owners



Smart Start provides development answers

The city of Austin has launched Smart Start, an online question-and-answer forum that provides small business owners with information about zoning, permitting, and construction regulations before they lease or purchase a property.

Users who visit can post questions directly to staff for response, or browse through the Q&A’s posted by other users.

“Small businesses are part of Austin’s vibrancy, and the Development Services Department is putting together the tools and resources to support small businesses,” said Rodney Gonzales, director of the Development Services Department. “Smart Start is a dynamic technological resource to provide valuable information to small businesses.”

The Q&A platform was developed by Bazaarvoice. The project was made possible through a $50,000 grant awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

For information visit Smart Start or call 512-978-4000.

— American-Statesman staff


Asian American Resource Center presents three exhibits

The Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road, Austin, will bring three groundbreaking exhibits, “Vivid Strokes: Contemporary Paintings from Vietnam,” “Vietnam to Austin: Restoring Community” and “Vietnamese American Art: Selected Works,” on Oct. 21 to be displayed until Dec. 30.

The free opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 21 with guest speaker Nancy Bui, president of the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation, speaking at 7 p.m.

Refreshments will be provided, courtesy of 4 Elements by Em Gourmet, a local Vietnamese restaurant opened by Diana Nguyen. Works from both “Vivid Strokes” and “Vietnamese American Art” are available for sale.

For information visit

— American-Statesman staff


Pflugerville police chief announces retirement

The city of Pflugerville Police Chief Chuck Hooker announced his retirement from the force Friday, with his final day of service set for Jan. 6.

Hooker joined the Pflugerville Police Department in 1983 as a patrol officer and served in numerous roles over the years, including detective, sergeant, lieutenant and assistant chief. He has served as chief of police since 2004 and has overseen the city’s emergency management system as emergency management coordinator since 2005. He is the longest-tenured employee in city history.

The city will honor Hooker at the Jan. 10 City Council meeting.

— American-Statesman staff



Round Rock library group looks to grow

Friends of the Round Rock Public Library will have a membership drive this week, as part of National Friends of Libraries Week.

All new and renewing members who join this week will become eligible to win one of two $50 gift certificates in a drawing. Visit the library at 216 E. Main St. to register and leave a form with a Friends member or staff person. All forms will have the name of the Friends member or a staff person’s name placed in the drawing.

Friends of the Round Rock Public Library raises and donates an average of $15,000 a year to the library. These funds have purchased a children’s service desk, media and teen shelving, eBooks, and a monthly Book Page magazine subscription, and have funded small business workshops, movie licenses and many programs for children and adults.

Visit for information.

— Round Rock Leader



Library to host food preservation workshop

Hays County Master Gardener Marilyn McCray will lead a talk on preserving foods from this year’s harvest at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at the Dripping Springs Community Library, 501 Sportsplex Drive.

McCray has been a cook, is involved in the organic food movement and is a contributor to Edible Austin and Austin Woman Magazine. She is the coauthor of “Canning, Pickling, and Freezing with Irma Harding: Recipes to Preserve Food, Family and the American Way.”

To reserve a seat email

— American-Statesman staff



Forum for commission candidates on Thursday

The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce will host a candidate forum at 6 p.m. Thursday for the two races for Bastrop Commissioners Court on the November ballot.

The forum will be held at the Jerry Fay Wilhelm Center for Performing Arts, 1401 Cedar St.

The Precinct 1 race features Republican Mel Hamner and Democrat Dock Jackson, while the Precinct 3 contest features Republican Colton Stabeno and Democrat Mark Meuth. Candidates will have the opportunity to make opening and closing statements and field questions.

If only one candidate in a race attends the event, there will not be a forum for that race, though the candidate may speak informally with members of the audience and distribute campaign materials, according to event organizers.

For information, call 512-303-0558 or visit

— American-Statesman staff

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