Austin, TX Region Attracting Tech And Innovation

Investments into this Central Texas region are moving at the speed of global business, according to Stacey Schmitt, Senior Vice President, Communication & External Affairs, Opportunity Austin.

By BF Editors
From the May / June 2024 Issue

 

Business Facilities: Please describe the Austin, TX region’s broad advantages for business.

Stacy Schmitt: Three of the four fastest growing U.S. cities are located in Central Texas, which consistently ranks as a national leader for attracting and cultivating businesses rooted in innovation and technology. Made up of five counties and 22 communities, the Austin region is quickly becoming a hub for emerging industries such as aerospace and defense, advanced manufacturing, clean tech, and life sciences.

Stacey Schmitt, Senior Vice President, Communication & External Affairs, Opportunity Austin
Stacey Schmitt, Senior Vice President, Communication & External Affairs, Opportunity Austin

Central Texas is now home to more than 400 foreign-owned companies, and foreign direct investment is increasing each year. The rise in foreign-based companies and foreign investment has helped diversify and boost the region’s economy while helping homegrown companies access new investment sources and international markets.

BF: What are leading industries? What are the growth industries?

Schmitt: Information technology and manufacturing have long been the Austin region’s leading industries. Fueled by a young, highly trained workforce along with partnerships between the region’s higher education institutions and the private sector, Austin is becoming a leader in top emerging industries.

More than 300 life sciences companies are in the Austin region today with a focus on medical devices, pharma, diagnostics, biotech, and contract research/clinical trials. Our cluster of aerospace & defense companies is rapidly expanding, driven by the U.S. Army Futures Command HQ in Austin and significant R&D spending at the University of Texas at Austin. And, led by Tesla, Inc. and Samsung Electronics Ltd., we’ve seen significant investments in advanced manufacturing and semiconductor production. Central Texas has more than 250 clean tech companies specializing in solar, wind power, fuel cells, biomass, geothermal resources, biofuels, automotive technologies, energy storage, advanced power systems, smart grids, and energy-saving technologies.

BF: What are long-standing advantages for business?

Schmitt: Texas is known internationally for its business-friendly climate. This includes low taxes, reasonable regulations, and competitive incentives for large investments. Central Texas benefits from this in addition to its reputation for fun, vibrancy, and an overall high quality of life. We have 400,000 college students within a 100-mile radius, and we’re a magnet for young professionals across the country.

Our diversified economy has proven resilient during global economic downturns and disruption. Central Texas was one of the last regions impacted by the Great Recession and one of the first to rebound. We also set new records for job creation in 2020 and 2021 during the height of the pandemic.

Austin, Texas
Advanced manufacturing investments across varied industries are growing in the Austin, TX region. (Credit: Adobe Stock/Reagan)
BF: What are recent developments that businesses should know about?

Schmitt: Texas’ new Chapter 403 incentive program began accepting applications in January offering companies the opportunity to secure significant property tax breaks for large-scale projects such as manufacturing facilities. A similar previous program helped lure Tesla, Inc.’s $1 billion Tesla Gigafactory to the region along with the $17 billion Samsung semiconductor manufacturing facility now under construction in Taylor. Both companies have since expanded their local investments.

Last year the Texas Legislature allocated $200 million to incentivize filming and production— the most ever allocated for this industry in the state. The Legislature also created a tax exemption for companies that have biomedical equipment or products that would normally be taxed as property.

Locally, the City of Austin, Central Texas Workforce Solutions, and Austin Community College have partnered to create a program called The Austin Infrastructure Academy. Supported by public-private partnerships and tailored to address industry needs, the Academy offers education, training, and support services to equip individuals with the skills necessary for careers in fields such as welding, construction, heavy machinery operation, electric fleet maintenance, and HVAC.

BF: What is a recent relocation or expansion you’d like to tell us about?

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Schmitt: Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor manufacturing facility in Taylor was already the largest economic development project in Central Texas history when the company announced in April it was expanding its local investment to $45 billion with the help of $6.4 billion in federal money through the CHIPS and Science Act. The company’s plans include two new leading-edge logic fabs, an R&D fab, and an advanced packaging facility in Taylor, as well as an expansion of an Austin facility. The Dept. of Commerce grant also includes $40 million in dedicated funding for workforce development. Samsung’s investment is expected to directly create 4,500 manufacturing jobs and 17,000 construction jobs over the next five years.

BF: What is a quality of life highlight?

Schmitt: Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, with a diverse music scene that ranges from iconic small local venues to the new state-of-the-art Moody Center arena to internationally renowned festivals such as South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music festival. Central Texas also offers an abundance of outdoor activities and amenities, ranging from the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake, which offers stunning views of downtown Austin, to pristine parks and nature preserves in the Hill Country.

Check out all the latest news related to Texas economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.

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