BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 26, 2019)

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[BG PODCAST]

NEW -> Episode 54: Austin Market Perspective with Zach Cannon of The Burt Group (LINK TO SHOW)


[AUSTIN METRO]

Ford To Test Self-Driving Vehicles In Austin (KUT)

Austin will become Ford’s third market to test self-driving vehicles, the company announced Wednesday. The company cited the region’s fast growth and history of innovation as reasons for choosing Austin.

“Ford and Austin officials believe self-driving vehicles can be part of a comprehensive solution that addresses the city’s mobility challenges, including providing wider access to transportation and more efficient goods delivery,” Sherif Marakby, CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, said. “For years, Austin has been a huge proponent of transportation innovation, becoming the first city in the world to host a driverless vehicle on public streets.”

Ford will work with tech firm Argo AI to start mapping Austin’s streets and gather data about mobility. The company plans to grow its fleet in Austin over the next year, with testing beginning in East Austin and downtown… (LINK TO STORY)


Austin eliminating traffic deaths by 2025 a remote possibility, city audit finds (Austin Monitor)

The city of Austin is unlikely to reach its goal of zero traffic deaths or serious injuries by 2025, according to a new report from the city auditor’s office.

“While a goal of zero traffic deaths and serious injuries is an appropriate vision for Austin, (Transportation Department) staff acknowledged that it is unlikely the city will achieve that goal,” auditors wrote, in a report released Wednesday.

Auditors considered how the Transportation Department has improved traffic safety by redesigning streets and educating the public. While the report acknowledges some traffic safety measures are out of the city’s control – for example, Austin does not have jurisdiction over many highways, such as Interstate 35 – auditors questioned several decisions made by city staff… (LINK TO STORY)


Austin Community College to open new manufacturing incubator in 2020 (Community Impact)

Ed Latson, executive director of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, said in the six years he has been working in his current position, the biggest challenge local manufacturers have faced is attracting and maintaining talent.

“There’s more than 1,700 businesses here, and they’re all thriving. They’re doing fantastic, but they’re throttled by people,” Latson said. “They have demand and customers. They don’t always have the skilled workforce to run their equipment and get the product out the door. Can you imagine anything more frustrating than that, as a business owner?”

A new incubator program at Austin Community College is looking to address that problem for the local manufacturing industry while also providing training for students and a space for start-up companies to grow.

The incubator will be housed in a building currently under construction on ACC’s Highland campus—one that is scheduled to open in 2020, according to ACC. It will become the third incubator on campus, joining the bioscience and fashion spaces. Each of the three are designed to fill a need in the local economy by combining space for local small businesses and entrepreneurs with opportunities for ACC students… (LINK TO STORY)


How Khoros fended off tech behemoths for new Austin HQ (Austin Business Journal)

Finding contiguous office space of 50,000 square feet or greater in the Austin area right now is challenging, especially for startups needing to move fast and not pay top-of-the-market rates found in The Domain and Central Business District.

CoStar Group Inc. Central Texas Economist Sam Tenenbaum said there are only nine buildings in the Austin area with more than 70,000 square feet of contiguous space available. Only four of those were built after the year 2000.

Chrissy Fuller, a principal at Avison Young who represented Khoros in its search for office space, said there were only a handful of buildings that were viable options for Khoros when it began looking for space more than a year ago... (LINK TO STORY)


[TEXAS] 

Amazon, Texas community colleges launch new degree for cloud computing (Dallas Morning News)

Inspired by Amazon's need for tech talent, community colleges in Dallas County and across Texas will offer a new degree that prepares students for careers in cloud computing. Texas education leaders and the tech company announced the creation of associate's and bachelor's degree programs Thursday at a Dallas event attended by Secretary of State Ruth Hughs and several Texas lawmakers.

Dallas County Community College District is one of 22 community colleges that will offer the two-year degree. Three Texas universities — Jarvis Christian College, Prairie View and Philip's College — will also offer degrees. The company will help Dallas, Irving and Houston Independent School Districts teach computer and data-related skills to younger students, too. Local and state education leaders have looked for ways to expand the pipeline of tech talent and prepare students for the workforce of the future. The new degree programs take a direct approach: Amazon Web Services helped design the curriculum so students have the skills listed in its job posts and those at similar companies… (LINK TO STORY)


After two Texas mass shootings, Greg Abbott wants to strengthen a vague network officials won't discuss (Texas Tribune)

Texas Department of Public Safety officials overseeing a program Gov. Greg Abbott tapped to help halt potential mass shootings say staffing shortages and privacy concerns stand in the way of taking more preventive action against such massacres. But the department hasn’t specified the current number of analysts participating in what’s called the Suspicious Activity Reporting Network, how potential threats are identified or how the program will work differently with additional public resources.

“I’m confident we’re going to need more resources, particularly analytical resources…Every lead has to be followed up on, we cannot sit on it. It will certainly take resources to do that,” DPS Director Steven McCraw told lawmakers this month… (LINK TO STORY)


Turner leads mayor’s race, Buzbee second in new poll (Houston Chronicle)

Mayor Sylvester Turner leads trial lawyer and businessman Tony Buzbee by 17 points, according to a KHOU/Houston Public Media poll released Wednesday.

The survey of 516 registered likely voters found Turner well ahead of the 12-candidate field with 37 percent, followed by Buzbee at 19.6 percent and Bill King at 9.5 percent. The poll’s margin of error is 4.3 percent. With less than four weeks to go until early voting, the results provide the first clear and public picture of the Houston mayor’s race, which has intensified in recent weeks. Candidates regularly have met face-to-face at forums and stepped up their attacks on each other through ads and at stops along the campaign trail… (LINK TO STORY)


[NATION]

Juul accepts proposed ban on flavored vaping products as CEO steps down (NPR)

Juul Labs has agreed to stop advertising its popular e-cigarettes in the United States and announced that its chief executive officer is stepping down as state and federal regulators examine hundreds of cases of people who are sick from what appears to be a vaping-related lung disease.

The company also said in a Wednesday statement that it will not push back on a Trump administration plan to pull flavored e-cigarettes from the market until the controversial products win approval from federal regulators. In the statement, Juul officials said the company will be "refraining from lobbying the administration on its draft guidance" that proposes banning fruit-flavored vaping products, unless approved by the Food and Drug Administration, in an attempt to make the e-cigarettes less available to young consumers… (LINK TO STORY)


The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.

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