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Business


Task force: Raise hotel tax to pay for convention center expansion

A city task force is recommending that the Austin City Council vote to expand the convention center downtown and pay for the $609 million addition with a 2-cent hike in the city’s hotel occupancy tax, the group’s chairman said. The 2-cent increase would create about $24 million a year, said James Russell, who led the Visitor Impact Task Force. The convention center would sell bonds against...


Business Digest: U.S. jobless claims edge upward

ECONOMY U.S. jobless claims edge upward WASHINGTON — Slightly more people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but jobless claims remained at historically low levels. Applications for weekly unemployment aid rose 1,000 to 234,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, fell 5,750 to 235,250. That’s the lowest level since April 14, 1973...
Commentary: What U.S. businesses should know before using Alibaba

Commentary: What U.S. businesses should know before using Alibaba

When Jack Ma, executive chairman of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, met with President Donald Trump, he made a promise: The online sales platform would give 1 million U.S. small businesses entrée to the Chinese market. Ma also said that this effort would create 1 million new U.S. jobs. He is even planning a conference in June to teach U.S. businesses how to sell to the company&rsquo...
Ride-hailing services Lyft, Uber return to Austin Monday

Ride-hailing services Lyft, Uber return to Austin Monday

Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft say they will return to Austin Monday. Drivers who have worked for Lyft in the past were notified of the company’s return in a text message sent Thursday morning, while an Uber spokesman confirmed his company’s return in an email to the American-Statesman. Lyft and Uber pulled out of Austin a year ago, citing displeasure with a new, city-mandated...
Austin visitors bureau embroiled in open records fight

Austin visitors bureau embroiled in open records fight

Embroiled in an open records dispute with a local civic activist, Austin’s convention and visitors agency on Wednesday reversed course and released a number of operational documents after a lawsuit was filed demanding access to the information. The agency – recently renamed Visit Austin after being known for years as the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau – was sued Tuesday in...

Business Digest: U.S. home sales fell in April amid supply squeeze

HOUSING MARKET U.S. home sales fell in April amid supply squeeze WASHINGTON — Americans pulled back their pace of home-buying in April, as the shrinking number of houses for sale and rising prices are putting them in a bind as their options dwindle. The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that sales of existing homes declined 2.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual...
Shares dip after earnings report from San Marcos-based Thermon

Shares dip after earnings report from San Marcos-based Thermon

San Marcos-based Thermon Group Holdings Inc. saw its shares slide on Wednesday after the company reported quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street projections. For the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ended March 31, Thermon reported net income of $3.3 million, or 10 cents per share. The results did not meet Wall Street expectations, as the average estimate of analysts surveyed...
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway could face fines over Texas dealership law

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway could face fines over Texas dealership law

It’s a good thing Warren Buffett has deep pockets. The billionaire’s holding company – Berkshire Hathaway Inc. – could be liable for civil fines in the range of $350,000 a day if an ongoing investigation by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles determines it to be in violation of Texas law prohibiting the owner of an automobile manufacturer from also owning automobile dealerships...

Business Digest: Office building planned for West Austin

REAL ESTATE Office building planned for West Austin Cushman & Wakefield said Tuesday it has been hired to lease Davenport 360, an office building planned for West Austin that will break ground as soon as a major tenant commits to the project. The 33,900-square-foot building will be located at 6001 Bold Ruler Way off Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360), a corridor that’s home to numerous technology...

Business Digest: Citigroup to pay $97.4 M in money laundering case

FINANCE Citigroup to pay $97.4 M to settle money laundering case For years, Citigroup employees feared that millions of dollars the bank was moving to Mexico might be suspicious. Yet in many cases, the bank did not alert regulators or step up its monitoring for money laundering, federal prosecutors said Monday. Even as the Citigroup unit Banamex USA was growing to dominate remittances from the United...
2 more Blue Bell flavors return to stores this week

2 more Blue Bell flavors return to stores this week

Blue Bell’s slow return to normalcy continues following a nationwide recall prompted by listeria fears nearly two years ago, with the Brenham-based creamery rolling out two more flavors this week. Lime sherbet and orange sherbet are both once again available beginning Monday, the company said. Blue Bell has been gradually adding back flavors after the devastating recall. It’s...

Up the Ladder

Financial services Citizens Inc. has named Jeff Conklin chief accounting officer company. Health care St. David’s Medical Center has named Esther Chung chief operating officer and Lynn O’Neill chief nursing officer. Medical Elligo Health Research has named Rebecca Kush scientific innovation officer. Retail Whole Foods Market has named the following to its board of directors: • Ken...
Commentary: Why border adjustment tax is a bad idea that just won’t die

Commentary: Why border adjustment tax is a bad idea that just won’t die

The world is a much different place than it was 30 years ago — the last time our tax code received a major overhaul. The United States is facing stiff competition from other nations in an increasingly global marketplace, where our comparative advantage is significantly diminished by the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. Bringing our tax rates in line with worldwide norms &mdash...
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

HOME SALES Area home sales, home prices surge in April: Central Texas home sales rose just over 3 percent in April and the median price of those sales hit $305,000 — the second-highest level ever, according to new data from the Austin Board of Realtors. The median also set a record for an April. To date, the all-time high for the median home-sales price was set in August 2016, when it reached...

America’s fiscal sword of Damocles

“Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness.” President John F. Kennedy delivered those frightening words in front of the United Nations back in 1961. Not much has changed over the decades — just look at North Korea. Another less deadly, yet...
Commentary: Texas Legislature votes to restrict policyholders’ rights

Commentary: Texas Legislature votes to restrict policyholders’ rights

Texas lawmakers are on the fast track to restrict policyholders’ rights when their insurance companies fail to pay property insurance claims arising out of weather events, such as storms involving heavy winds and hail. Now that the Texas Senate has approved House Bill 1774, Gov. Greg Abbott is almost sure to sign it. Unfortunately, this will unleash unexpected and unpleasant surprises for Texas...
Austin’s jobless rate dips as more people find work in April

Austin’s jobless rate dips as more people find work in April

The Austin-area unemployment rate headed down in April, while the number of employed workers in the metro area headed up across a wide swath of sectors — a pair of positive signs indicating the region’s job growth isn’t merely a byproduct of a rising population. The metro area’s jobless rate dropped to 3.2 percent in April from 3.6 percent the prior month, according to data...

Business Digest: New Target store near UT campus delayed

RETAIL New Target store near UT campus delayed A new Target adjacent to the University of Texas campus won’t be open in time for the start of the fall semester. The small-scale store, which will be located in the Dobie Twenty21 residential and retail tower at 2021 Guadalupe St., had been slated to open in July, but that’s now been pushed back to October. A typical Target is about three...
Showdown brews in Legislature over business tax cut

Showdown brews in Legislature over business tax cut

The Texas Senate and House have both made clear they want to eliminate the state’s main business tax, but a showdown appears to be brewing over how to accomplish it. One potential plan to end the franchise tax — outlined in House Bill 28 and approved by the full House three weeks ago — was taken up Friday morning by the powerful Senate Finance Committee. But committee members quickly...
New Target store near University of Texas campus delayed

New Target store near University of Texas campus delayed

A new Target adjacent to the University of Texas campus won’t be open in time for the start of the fall semester. The small-scale store, which will be located in the Dobie Twenty21 residential and retail tower at 2021 Guadalupe St., had been slated to open in July, but that’s now been pushed back to October. A typical Target is about three to four times larger than the one planned for...
‘BALANCED GROWTH’: Austin jobless rate dips as more people find work in April

‘BALANCED GROWTH’: Austin jobless rate dips as more people find work in April

The Austin-area unemployment rate headed down in April, while the number of employed workers in the metro area headed up — a pair of good signs for the region’s job market. The metro area’s jobless rate dropped to 3.2 percent in April from 3.6 percent the prior month, according to data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission. A drop in the area’s unemployment rate...

Business Digest: U.S. stocks bounce back with strong day

WALL STREET U.S. stocks bounce back with strong day Solid gains among phone companies and some retailers helped nudge U.S. stocks higher on Thursday, a day after the stock market had its biggest drop in eight months. Banks also recouped some of their losses. Energy and materials stocks fell. The rally came a day after the market’s worst drop since September as political tumult deepened in Washington...
Pedernales co-op CEO says he plans to resign, cites board ‘retaliation’

Pedernales co-op CEO says he plans to resign, cites board ‘retaliation’

Citing fallout from a board member’s racially charged comments last fall, the chief executive officer of Pedernales Electric Cooperative said during a public meeting this week that he can’t continue in the post but stopped short of abruptly resigning. John D. Hewa, who has headed the co-op since 2013, accused board members of retaliating against employees for speaking out against racial...
Baylor Scott & White planning hospital in Oak Hill area

Baylor Scott & White planning hospital in Oak Hill area

Baylor Scott & White Health plans to open a full-service hospital in the Oak Hill area in Southwest Austin, on 11 acres where a golf range operated until last week. If built, it would be Baylor Scott & White’s second hospital in Travis County, joining an existing one in Lakeway. The hospital would be at 5243 U.S. 290, where the Oak Hill Golf Range closed Sunday after 30 years of operations,...
Over Austin's objections, Texas Senate votes to ban 'linkage fees'

Over Austin's objections, Texas Senate votes to ban 'linkage fees'

Austin and other Texas cities attempting to address issues of housing affordability likely will have to do so without the benefit of so-called “linkage fees” on new development, after the state Senate on Thursday joined the House in voting to ensure such fees can’t be implemented. The Senate voted 27-4 to approve an amended version of House Bill 1449, which bans cities from charging...

Business Digest: Bill on storm lawsuits sent to Abbott

TEXAS LEGISLATURE Bill on storm lawsuits sent to Abbott A proposed law supporters say will curb baseless lawsuits against property insurance companies in the wake of “forces of nature” ranging from hailstorms to earthquakes and wildfires is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after the Texas Senate gave it final approval Wednesday on a 21-7 vote. If Abbott signs House Bill 1774 into...
Stores, medical condos on Travis delinquent tax list

Stores, medical condos on Travis delinquent tax list

Travis County’s annual list of top delinquent taxpayers is out – and it includes several well-known businesses. Topping the list, with a reported $104,617.60 in delinquent property taxes, is DCM Uptown LP, developer of Verandas at Uptown at 909 Reinli St. Once an apartment complex, Verandas at Uptown is being converted to condos, according to marketing materials, and the county says the...
Austin radio host Alex Jones settles suit with yogurt maker Chobani

Austin radio host Alex Jones settles suit with yogurt maker Chobani

Austin-based radio host Alex Jones’ legal battle with yogurt maker Chobani has come to an end, according to published reports. The Los Angeles Times reports details of the settlement weren’t released, but included Jones offering up this public apology: “During the week of April 10, 2017, certain statements were made on the Infowars, Twitter feed and YouTube channel regarding Chobani...
7-11, medical condos, nursing home, restaurant on delinquent tax list

7-11, medical condos, nursing home, restaurant on delinquent tax list

Travis County’s annual list of top delinquent taxpayers is out – and it includes several well-known businesses. Topping the list, with a reported $104,617.60 in delinquent property taxes, is DCM Uptown LP, developer of Verandas at Uptown at 909 Reinli St. Once an apartment complex, Verandas at Uptown is being converted to condos, according to marketing materials, and the county says the...
Ford cutting up to 20,000 salaried jobs, streamlining operations, report says

Ford cutting up to 20,000 salaried jobs, streamlining operations, report says

The Ford Motor Co. is planning to cut up to 10 percent of its 200,000-member global workforce to reduce costs and streamline its operations, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The report said the estimated 20,000 layoffs will mostly affect salaried employees, a majority of whom work in North America, as the No. 2 U.S. automaker works to increase its profits and stock prices. The company...
Austin-area home sales, median price climb in April

Austin-area home sales, median price climb in April

Central Texas home sales rose just over 3 percent in April and the median price of those sales hit $305,000 — the second-highest level ever, the Austin Board of Realtors said Tuesday. The median also set a record for an April. To date, the all-time high for the median home-sales price was set in August 2016, when it reached $363,190, the board said. “After a slow beginning to the year...
Global tailpipe tests vastly underestimate diesel pollution

Global tailpipe tests vastly underestimate diesel pollution

Pollution from diesel trucks, buses and cars globally is more than 50 percent higher than levels shown in government lab tests, a new study says. That extra pollution translated to another 38,000 deaths from soot and smog in 2015, the researchers estimated. The work published Monday in the journal Nature was a follow-up to the testing that uncovered the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal...
Progress reducing U.S. uninsured rate comes to a halt

Progress reducing U.S. uninsured rate comes to a halt

Five years of progress reducing the number of Americans without health insurance has come to a halt, according to a government report out Tuesday. More than a factoid, it shows the stakes in the Republican drive to roll back the Affordable Care Act. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 28.6 million people were uninsured in 2016, unchanged from 2015. It was...
Delta, Hawaiian, United and American top on-time rankings

Delta, Hawaiian, United and American top on-time rankings

Delta Air Lines scored the best for on-time flights in the latest government rankings, but United and American weren’t far behind. Virgin America had the highest rate of delayed flights, while discount carrier Spirit Airlines drew the highest rate of consumer complaints. The Transportation Department released figures for March on Tuesday. The report covers the 12 largest U.S. airlines. Through...

Business digest: Feds and Walmart allege canned tuna prices fixed

RETAIL Feds and Walmart allege canned tuna prices fixed Executives of the most popular tuna brands in the U.S. — Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and StarKist — conspired regularly to keep prices high for consumers with a taste for one of America’s favorite sandwich ingredients, according to criminal and civil court records updated this week. A typical can of tuna today costs about...
‘Machete’ star Danny Trejo's doughnut shop sells nacho, margarita flavors

‘Machete’ star Danny Trejo's doughnut shop sells nacho, margarita flavors

Danny Trejo: man, myth, Machete. The Los Angeles actor most famous for his collaborations with Austin director Robert Rodriguez turns 73 (!) on Tuesday, and it made us wonder: Whatever happened to that doughnut shop he planned to open? Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts opens Tuesday on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, according to Eater. The foodie news outlet reports that, in addition to bags...
Struggling Sears offers space in 2 Austin stores to other retailers

Struggling Sears offers space in 2 Austin stores to other retailers

With sales continuing to sag, struggling retailer Sears is trying to bring in extra cash by leasing out large chunks of its stores to other retailers, such as Austin-based Whole Foods Market. In Austin, Sears is currently offering up half the space at two of its stores – if the price is right – through Seritage Growth Properties, an affiliated real estate investment trust. In total, Seritage...
APRIL NUMBERS: Austin-area home sales, median price rise

APRIL NUMBERS: Austin-area home sales, median price rise

Central Texas home sales rose just over 3 percent in April and the median price of those sales hit $305,000 — the second-highest level ever, the Austin Board of Realtors said Tuesday. The median also set a record for an April. To date, the all-time high for the median home-sales price was set in August 2016, when it reached $363,190, the board said. “After a slow beginning to the year...

Business Digest: Texas Senate OKs computer science measure

TEXAS LEGISLATURE Senate OKs computer science measure The Texas Senate on Monday passed a bill designed to make it easier for more high school students to enroll in computer science classes. The legislation, House Bill 728, would have Texas public schools count computer science classes toward advanced math and science requirements, encouraging more participation in such courses and giving students...
With Golfsmith’s demise, Golf Galaxy steps into void

With Golfsmith’s demise, Golf Galaxy steps into void

Austin-based retailer Golfsmith is history, the victim of bankruptcy, but a number of its former stores have been scooped up by a competitor, Golf Galaxy. That includes one of Golfsmith’s two Austin locations, at 10001 Research Blvd. in the Arboretum area. Following a remodel and sign swap-outs, it debuted this month, becoming the first Golf Galaxy store in Central Texas. With the addition of...
Hotel one of three new businesses expected to bring jobs to Taylor

Hotel one of three new businesses expected to bring jobs to Taylor

Construction will start by midsummer on Taylor’s biggest hotel. The 75-room Holiday Inn Express will be at 180 Carlos Parker Blvd. NW, near the Williamson County Exposition Center. It’s going to be one of three businesses either planned or about to open that are bringing jobs to Taylor, said Mark Thomas, the president of the Taylor Economic Development Corp. “There’s lots of...
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

WHOLE SHAKEUP Whole Foods revamps board, hires new CFO: Whole Foods Market released its second-quarter earnings report Wednesday, but that turned out not to be the day’s big story involving the Austin-based retailer with 465 stores and 87,000 employees worldwide. As part of what it called an “accelerated path to delivering shareholder value,” Austin-based Whole Foods Market shook...
Austin auto sales up 8.8 percent in first quarter of 2017

Austin auto sales up 8.8 percent in first quarter of 2017

The first quarter was a strong one for Central Texas auto dealers. Sales of new cars and trucks were up 8.8 percent compared to the first three months of 2016, according to data from the Freeman Auto Report, a Dallas-based service that tracks those purchases in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. The strong quarter was driven by big gains in January and February...

The risks and rewards of annuities

My mom is 97 and 8 months. (As with infants, every month is a big deal at her age.) Apart from the pads of her feet hurting when she walks (due to loss of fatty tissue), she’s in good shape, including mentally. I figure she’ll make it beyond 100, knock on wood. Eight years ago, when she was 89, I had a hard time convincing my siblings she’d prevail this long. They were sure she wouldn&rsquo...

Business Digest: Visit Austin is tourism bureau’s new name

TOURISM Visit Austin is tourism bureau’s new name The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau has a new, snappier name. As part of a rebranding effort, the agency is now known as Visit Austin. It’s a move a number of other convention and visitors bureaus around the country have made in recent years. “Our ultimate goal in changing our name to Visit Austin was to make it easier for visitors...
EXCLUSIVE: $55 million mixed-use project gets going on South Congress

EXCLUSIVE: $55 million mixed-use project gets going on South Congress

Developers have started construction on a high-profile project on South Congress Avenue in Austin, and on Friday released new details about the mixed-use development to the American-Statesman. The project is called Music Lane, after the small street that forms its eastern border. The development will consist of three buildings, with 163,000 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space. There...
Texas lawmakers upset Canada with ‘Buy American’ bill

Texas lawmakers upset Canada with ‘Buy American’ bill

A proposed new “Buy American” provision for iron and steel that’s advancing in the Texas Legislature already is rattling a foreign government — Canada. Our neighbor to the North hasn’t been on the list of international trade scofflaws — which includes China, South Korea and Turkey — that Texas lawmakers pushing the protectionist measure have contended are...
After months of repairs, NLand Surf Park reopens

After months of repairs, NLand Surf Park reopens

NLand Surf Park reopened Friday after months of repairs. The 14-acre surf lagoon, located east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Texas 71 East, was forced to shut down last year just weeks after it opened when its liner was found to be damaged, according to Facebook posts. With work crews now gone, NLand says it’s ready to welcome guests. “Whether you’re an expert, a passionate...
Where will Austin’s software sector find its next breakout company?

Where will Austin’s software sector find its next breakout company?

When Austin-based online coupon company RetailMeNot agreed last month to be acquired by a San Antonio holding company for $630 million, it was hailed as a great deal for shareholders. But was the deal a good thing for Austin’s economy, which with the sale loses one of its most high-profile publicly held software companies? Central Texas has built a reputation for its vibrant startup ecosystem...
Time runs out on Texas bill to decriminalize marijuana

Time runs out on Texas bill to decriminalize marijuana

Time ran out in the Texas House late Thursday on a proposed law that would have reduced the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state to below that of most traffic tickets. A midnight deadline passed without the full House taking up House Bill 81 for initial consideration, meaning it and other House-originated bills remaining on its calendar are now dead as stand-alone legislation...
Texas House follows Senate in backing ‘Buy American’ for steel sector

Texas House follows Senate in backing ‘Buy American’ for steel sector

A proposed “Buy American” law for big state construction projects that supporters contend is needed to protect Texas jobs in the iron and steel sectors from foreign competition was approved by the Texas House on Thursday. The state Senate approved an identical measure last week, although not before amending it to exempt some water infrastructure projects from the provision. The House defeated...
Analysts: Whole Foods moving quicker than expected

Analysts: Whole Foods moving quicker than expected

Shares in Austin-based Whole Foods Market ticked up slightly Thursday, a day after the company unveiled a dramatic leadership shakeup and plans to boost profits by 2020. In regular trading, shares of the grocer closed at $37.03, up 2 percent. That trend continued into after-hours trading. The grocer replaced five directors Wednesday, named a new board chair and announced the hiring of a new chief...
Business bills could fall victim to clogged House calendar

Business bills could fall victim to clogged House calendar

A couple of business-related items are on the agenda for the Texas House on Thursday, but whether lawmakers get to them is anybody’s guess amid a jam-packed schedule and a mad dash by lawmakers to meet a midnight legislative deadline. House Bill 2780, sponsored by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, would provide U.S. iron and steel manufacturers with a substantial edge over foreign competitors...
H-E-B named one of the nation’s best grocers

H-E-B named one of the nation’s best grocers

San Antonio-based H-E-B, the dominant grocer in the Austin area and throughout much of Texas, has once again been named one of the best grocery chains in the country. A poll by Market Force Information found H-E-B ranked No. 3 in the U.S. H-E-B got its highest ratings from shoppers for availability of items, ease of finding items and service in specialty departments. Publix, Wegmans and Trader...
Analysts: Whole Foods moving 'quicker than we would have expected'

Analysts: Whole Foods moving 'quicker than we would have expected'

Shares in Austin-based Whole Foods Market started Thursday up slightly, a day after the company unveiled a dramatic leadership shakeup and plans to boost profits by 2020. The grocer replaced five directors, named a new board chair and announced the hiring of a new chief financial officer. CEO John Mackey also outlined an “accelerated path to delivering shareholder value” that includes...
Shake-up for Whole Foods: Company revamps board, hires new CFO

Shake-up for Whole Foods: Company revamps board, hires new CFO

Whole Foods Market released its second-quarter earnings report Wednesday, but that turned out not to be the day’s big story involving the Austin-based retailer with 465 stores and 87,000 employees worldwide. As part of its “accelerated path to delivering shareholder value,” Whole Foods shook up its leadership structure — replacing five directors, naming a new board chair and...
Hey, Bobcats: San Marcos is getting its first cat cafe

Hey, Bobcats: San Marcos is getting its first cat cafe

Hays County cat lovers, rejoice: Downtown San Marcos is set to get its first cat cafe this summer. Cattery Lounge & Snackery, expected to open at 235 N. LBJ Drive in early June, received permission from the city’s planning and zoning commission on Tuesday for use of a kennel in a business district, one of the final approvals it needs to start operating. The idea is to create a space for people...
Texas bill to decriminalize pot advances, but clock ticking

Texas bill to decriminalize pot advances, but clock ticking

A proposed law that would reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Texas to below that of most traffic tickets could come up for a historic vote by the Texas House on Thursday — if a jammed House calendar and the glacial pace of the legislative process doesn’t kill it first. House Bill 81, which would make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil, not...
Whole Foods ‘refresh’: 5 new directors, new chair, new CFO

Whole Foods ‘refresh’: 5 new directors, new chair, new CFO

3:30 p.m. update: Trying to revive its struggling business, Austin-based Whole Foods Market on Wednesday announced a major shakeup of its board and named a new chief financial officer. The grocery chain named five new directors to its board and named longtime board member Gabrielle Sulzberger as the board’s new chair. The moves came as Whole Foods faces pressure from some of its largest investors...

Business Digest: In 3 years, AT&T spends $6.8B on Texas network

TELECOMMUNICATIONS In 3 years, AT&T spends $6.8B on Texas network AT&T says it has spent $6.8 billion improving its wired and wireless networks across Texas in the past three years – including $600 million alone in the Austin area. That Austin figure encompasses about 700 different improvements, the Dallas-based telecommunications giant said Tuesday, such as boosts to LTE coverage. AT&T says...

Business Digest: Buffett faults United, but keeps airlines investments

AIRLINES Buffett faults United, but keeps airlines investments NEW YORK — Warren Buffett said Monday that United Airlines bungled the case of the passenger dragged off a plane last month, and he criticized the CEO’s handling of the incident. Buffett also said airplanes “may become like cattle cars,” but that’s because a significant number of passengers will put up with...
Medical marijuana advocates call for Texas House vote on bill

Medical marijuana advocates call for Texas House vote on bill

With the clock ticking down on the current session of the Texas Legislature, advocates for legalizing medicinal marijuana in the state are replacing their appeals to lawmakers’ compassion for suffering patients with political pressure. About two dozen supporters of medicinal marijuana rallied in front of the Texas Capitol on Monday for the second time in two weeks, calling out lawmakers by name...
Commentary: Bills would lift shield from predatory title, payday loans

Commentary: Bills would lift shield from predatory title, payday loans

Though reining in abuses by payday and auto title businesses has been on the agenda of the Texas Legislature for nearly two decades, we’ve yet to achieve statewide change. Now, the Legislature is considering eliminating the only protections that currently exist: local ordinances adopted in at least 42 Texas cities that put basic standards into place to address predatory practices in this market...
Pluckers adding locations; men’s grooming chain has Austin plans

Pluckers adding locations; men’s grooming chain has Austin plans

Austin-based Pluckers Wing Bar is in expansion mode. After focusing on other cities in recent years, the homegrown chain that was cooked up in 1995 by a couple of hungry University of Texas students is in the process of adding a pair of Austin locations. The first to open will be in The Linc, a shopping center at U.S. 290 and Interstate 35 in North Austin that’s undergoing a dramatic transformation...
Top Local Business Stories of the Week

Top Local Business Stories of the Week

ACL IMPACT Report says 2016 ACL Fest brought $277.4 million into Austin economy: The 2016 Austin City Limits Music Festival had an estimated impact of $277.4 million on Austin’s economy, according to a study released last week. The study was commissioned by ACL Fest and conducted by Austin-based Angelou Economics. Of the total estimated economic impact, $124.1 million was directly tied to festival...

Which should you take first — Social Security or your 401(k)?

Social Security provides an enormous return for those who are patient. Consider its retirement benefits. You can take them as early as 62 or as late as 70. If you wait until 70, your retirement benefit will be 76 percent higher, after adjusting for inflation, than if you had started at 62. Yes, you give up eight years of benefits by waiting. But receiving a 76 percent larger check for 30 years (if...

Business Digest: Nissan SUV subject of federal inquiry

AUTOMAKERS Nissan SUV subject of federal inquiry DETROIT — The U.S. government’s highway safety agency is investigating complaints that the brakes can malfunction on some Nissan SUVs. The investigation covers about 110,000 Muranos from the 2009 model year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted Friday that 58 drivers complained about the problem. One...

Texas House OKs property insurance bill

The Texas House has approved a bill that supporters say is needed to rein in spiraling numbers of abusive lawsuits against insurance companies in the wake of hail storms and other severe weather that causes property damage. But detractors say the measure tips the scales toward insurance companies in disputes with Texas homeowners and businesses over claims. The bill — House Bill 1774, sponsored...
Texas lawmakers weigh new ‘buy American’ rules

Texas lawmakers weigh new ‘buy American’ rules

Just weeks after President Donald Trump signed his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, some Texas lawmakers are angling to do their part to bolster the first half of the slogan with their own protectionist measure. The Texas House is scheduled on Monday to debate House Bill 2780, which would provide U.S. iron and steel manufacturers with a substantial edge over foreign competitors...

Former Austin concert promoter gets 10 years in prison

A former Austin concert promoter was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud, the Texas State Securities Board said Friday. As part of a plea agreement reached in Travis County district court, David Elliott Rosen must also pay $1.8 million in restitution to people who invested in his businesses. Rosen operated Rozone Productions LLC, which filed for bankruptcy in...

Business Digest: Fewer Americans apply for unemployment benefits

ECONOMY Fewer Americans apply for unemployment benefits WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week after two weeks of small gains. The Labor Department says weekly jobless claims dropped by 19,000 to 238,000, the lowest level in three weeks. The less volatile four-week average edged up by 750 to 243,000. Overall, 1.96 million Americans are collecting unemployment...
Quarterly earnings a mixed bag for Austin companies

Quarterly earnings a mixed bag for Austin companies

A number of Austin’s publicly traded companies issued their quarterly earnings reports this week. The reports were a mixed bag, with some companies showing progress and beating Wall Street’s expectations, and others seeing their numbers fall short of projections. Here’s a look at how some of those Central Texas companies did this week: Chuy’s Holdings Austin-based Chuy&rsquo...
Commentary: There’s a better place for that border wall — Canada

Commentary: There’s a better place for that border wall — Canada

President Donald Trump insists he is “100 percent” certain that the United States will build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border during his first term in office. Immigration reform was a cornerstone of Trump’s presidential campaign and an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” between the U.S. and Mexico has remained the centerpiece...
ACL Fest organizer gives $6.3 million to Austin parks

ACL Fest organizer gives $6.3 million to Austin parks

It’s been a big week for the Austin City Limits Music Festival and its producer, C3 Presents. The 2016 festival had an economic impact of $277.4 million, according to a report released Monday. This year’s lineup was released Thursday and tickets went on sale, too. And C3 Presents gave $6.3 million to the Austin Parks Foundation. Much of the $26 million C3 Presents has given the foundation...

Business Digest: New ownership for 2 Austin office buildings

REAL ESTATE New ownership for 2 Austin office buildings Austin-based developer Riverside Resources said it has acquired two buildings in Northwest Austin that it will renovate, rebrand and reunite with the Quarry Oaks mixed-use project, which the firm originally developed. Riverside Resources initially owned the two buildings in the mid-1990s, before selling them to Quarry Lake Properties Trust. That...
Developer lands funding for $40 million Southwest Austin project

Developer lands funding for $40 million Southwest Austin project

Austin-based Stratus Properties Inc. said Wednesday that it has secured financing for the first phase of Lantana Place, a mixed-use project in Southwest Austin that will include a 10-screen dine-in movie theater. Tyler-based Southside Bank provided the $26.3 million loan for the development, which has a $40 million price tag and is expected to break ground this month. Joeris, a firm with offices in...
Texas House OKs bill to prohibit cities from charging ‘linkage fees’

Texas House OKs bill to prohibit cities from charging ‘linkage fees’

The Texas House has voted to put off limits a potential source of revenue for Austin and other Texas cities attempting to address issues of housing affordability. House Bill 1449, sponsored by state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, would prevent Texas cities from charging so-called “linkage fees” on new construction to help pay for affordable housing. Under the bill, a city may not levy...
Richest county in U.S. is 5 counties away — but you probably can't name it

Richest county in U.S. is 5 counties away — but you probably can't name it

The richest county in the United States? It’s right here in Texas. But it’s not what you think. Sure, Houston-area Montgomery County made the top 50 (just barely), but it’s little McMullen County — south of San Antonio, northwest of Corpus Christi — that leads the way, as reported recently by Bloomberg. The numbers can be explained. McMullen County had a population of...
NEW: Study ranks Austin among best cities for job-seekers

NEW: Study ranks Austin among best cities for job-seekers

Job search site Indeed has named its 25 best cities for job seekers and Austin jumps in at No. 4. Two Florida cities — Miami and Orlando — take the top two spots, while Raleigh, N.C., and Sacramento sandwich Austin at spots No. 3 and 5. Texas cities Houston (No. 9), San Antonio (No. 16) and Dallas (No. 22) also make the list, which is dominated by Florida (three cities in the top...

Texas patients sharpen plea for medical marijuana legalization

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include more information from Tuesday night’s hearing. Advocates for legalizing marijuana in Texas for medical purposes delivered a simple plea to state lawmakers Tuesday night: Don’t let misconceptions continue to block a life-improving treatment for people with serious health problems. They drove home their request with wrenching personal...

Business Digest: Work starts on Cedar Park industrial park

DEVELOPMENT Work starts on Cedar Park industrial park Developers on Tuesday broke ground on Brushy Creek Corporate Center, a 16-acre industrial campus in Cedar Park that is due to open in August. The development will consist of two 231,030-square-foot buildings located at 1200 BMC Drive, between the National Instruments campus and the BMC campus along Brushy Creek Drive and with access to nearby Texas...
Hays County home values rise nearly 9%

Hays County home values rise nearly 9%

The market value of homes across Hays County rose almost 9 percent for 2017 as the area continues to boom, Hays Chief Appraiser David Valle said Tuesday. The average market value of homes in the county increased 8.9 percent, to $231,509 this year from $212,401 last year, Valle said. The taxable value of homes — whihc is the market value minus exemptions — increased 9.8 percent on average...
Hays County average home values climb nearly 9 percent

Hays County average home values climb nearly 9 percent

Home values rose almost 9 percent on average across Hays County for 2017, Hays Chief Appraiser David Valle said Tuesday. The average market value of homes in the county increased 8.9 percent, to $231,509 this year from $212,401 last year, Valle said. The taxable value of homes — the market value minus exemptions — increased 9.8 percent on average, to $216,169 from $196,739 last year, he...

Business Digest: U.S. factory activity continues to grow in April

ECONOMY U.S. factory activity continues to grow in April WASHINGTON — American factories grew for the eighth straight month in April but at a slower pace than in March. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Monday that its manufacturing index slipped to 54.8 from 57.2 in March and 57.7 in February. The April reading was weaker than economists expected...

Texas House set to hear medical marijuana bill

A Texas House committee has scheduled a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would legalize marijuana in the state as a medical treatment option for a wide range of health conditions, including chronic pain, cancer, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder. The hearing – in the House Public Health Committee, chaired by state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo — marks a victory of sorts for advocates...
Report: 2016 ACL Fest brought $277.4 million into Austin economy

Report: 2016 ACL Fest brought $277.4 million into Austin economy

The 2016 Austin City Limits Music Festival had an estimated impact of $277.4 million on Austin’s economy, according to a study released Monday. The study was commissioned by ACL Fest and conducted by Austin-based Angelou Economics. Of the total estimated economic impact, $124.1 million was directly tied to festival operations, while the remaining $153.3 million came from expenditures made by...
REPORT: 2016 ACL Fest brought $277.4 million into Austin economy

REPORT: 2016 ACL Fest brought $277.4 million into Austin economy

The 2016 Austin City Limits Music Festival had an estimated impact of $277.4 million on Austin’s economy, according to a study released Monday. The study was commissioned by ACL Fest and conducted by Austin-based Angelou Economics. The event’s 2016 economic impact was up nearly $55 million over 2015, when the estimated impact was $222.9 million, according to the study. That’s a 25...
Home Depot data leak compromises customers’ private info again

Home Depot data leak compromises customers’ private info again

A spread sheet listing about 8,000 customers, along with their transaction and a range of personal information, was posted for an unknown amount of time, on a Home Depot web site. No financial data was part of the list, which did not compare with the 2014 data breach in which hackers installed software that provided them with personal and financial information for 56 million Home Depot customers. ...
Have a great workplace? Let us know

Have a great workplace? Let us know

Help us spread the word about the best places to work in Austin. Nominations are now open for the American-Statesman’s 2017 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project. The project recognizes employers that stand for the best in leadership, vision, an employee-centered culture and other qualities. Any employer is eligible — private company, nonprofit, government or school — as long...
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