BG Reads | News You Need to Know (July 9, 2019)



Austin Affordable No More? Office Rents Now Rival Silicon Valley's (Forbes)

Large tech companies have exponentially increased their presence in Austin. This has had a dramatic impact on office rents in the Texas capital, according to research by commercial real estate brokerage JLL.

As of the end of June, the "big 8 tech" companies had either committed to or actually occupied 9.2 million square feet of space in the city, according to JLL. (This includes owner occupied.) Note that JLL did not name the “big 8” but logically one can assume they are referring to tech giants such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Oracle and Amazon, which all have a growing presence in the city.

This is nearly eight times more than the just 1.2 million square feet occupied or committed to in the fourth quarter of 2014. To put that in perspective, big tech has expanded by nearly eightfold in Austin in less than five years’ time… (LINK TO STORY)

Council to mull funding for incentives to increase transit use (Austin Monitor)

The Austin Transportation Department has delivered its findings to City Council on how the city could start small programs that would provide incentives to some riders of public transit. The report, which included 15 potential pilot programs, was given to Council members and other city staff last month, for consideration ahead of the upcoming negotiations on the next city budget.

Council would likely have to approve a budget amendment to fund one or more of the programs, with transportation staff hoping to have $1 million to create and implement the programs.

The report was a response to a resolution passed in December that said increasing traffic congestion and the cost of single-occupancy car use for Austin residents make it necessary for the city to find ways to increase use of mass transit services.

In a memo released last week, Austin Transportation director Robert Spillar highlighted six of the 15 programs, based in part on a small group of interviews with potential transit users on what type of incentives would be effective in motivating them to use mass transit more often… (LINK TO STORY)

H-E-B to remodel East Austin store (Community Impact)

H-E-B will remodel its store at 2701 E. Seventh St., Austin. Changes will include a curbside shopping service, a flower bar, an expanded selection of produce and a larger meat market. The 54,000-square-foot store was built in 1956; the renovation is expected to finish by mid-summer… (LINK TO STORY)


The ‘Texas Miracle’ missed most of Texas (New York Times)

Nearly all of the net growth in jobs and new businesses in Texas over the last decade, Labor Department data show, has been concentrated in four large metropolitan areas — Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Those areas accounted for more than four out of every five jobs created in the state since the recession ended, their populations swelling with surges of young and talented workers.

Collectively, the four saw double the rate of job growth as the rest of Texas. A similar geographic inequality is playing out in other places in America, alarming officials at the Federal Reserve. While the latest jobs report showed the economy’s continued strength after 10 years of expansion, the effects have been uneven, with the wealthiest parts of the country reaping a disproportionate share of the gains… (LINK TO STORY)

Why Texas is the No. 1 state for business startups for second year in a row (Dallas Morning News)

Texas tops the list of best states to start a business for the second year in a row, according to an annual study by WalletHub. The study highlights Texas' abundance of business incentives and its exceptional growth in small businesses.

Texas had the 5th highest amount of spending on business incentives –– totaling 1.3% of its GDP, according to WalletHub. The Lone Star State has a wide variety of non-profit and government-backed programs for assisting… (LINK TO STORY)

After supporting flood bond, Houston-area developers want to delay new building rules (Houston Chronicle)

Houston-area developers, engineers and real estate professionals were among the most vocal supporters of last summer’s $2.5 billion Harris County flood bond, the largest storm infrastructure investment in county history.

They contributed to a political action committee established by bond backers and helped shepherd the initiative to passage on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, the devastating 2017 storm that flooded more than 204,000 homes and apartments in Harris County. For the past several months, however, many of those players quietly have lobbied Houston and Harris County officials to delay implementation of new building rules developers say will increase housing costs but county engineers insist are needed to protect neighborhoods from future storms… (LINK TO STORY)


Families With Noncitizens Could Lose Federal Housing Benefits If HUD Proposal Moves Forward (KUT)

Tuesday is the last day for public comment on a proposal that could evict or even separate thousands of families with mixed-citizenship status who receive housing assistance in Texas.

Since 1980, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allowed households that include noncitizens to receive benefits for public or subsidized housing, but the proposed rule would rescind that coverage for current recipients and any going forward. Those under 62 who are living in mixed-status homes who don’t have a citizen as the head of household could be evicted or their benefits dropped if the rule takes effect… (LINK TO STORY)

Julián Castro reaches 130,000 donors, surpassing one threshold for fall primary debates (Texas Tribune)

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro announced Monday morning that he has amassed 130,000 donors, one of the requirements to make the primary debate stage this fall.

To qualify for the September and October debates, candidates must hit the 130,000-donor threshold and get 2% support in four polls. It is a higher bar than the national party set for the first two debates — in June and July — when candidates could be eligible by getting 65,000 contributors or 1% in three surveys.

Castro, the former U.S. housing secretary and San Antonio mayor, expressed confidence in a statement that more and more people were rallying behind him as he gets his message out… (LINK TO STORY)

Scooter hit-and-run triggers battle over rider location data (CNET)

Electric scooters have been on the streets in Chicago for just three weeks and they already appear to be causing a disruption. One such incident involves a cyclist who ended up in the emergency room trauma unit after being hit head-on by a scooter rider.

Allyson Medeiros was riding his bike home from work in the city's Wicker Park neighborhood at around 5:30 p.m. on June 20, according to his lawyers. He was riding with the flow of traffic in the bike lane when a scooter rider -- going the opposite direction on the wrong side of the road -- crashed into him. The scooter rider fled. But Medeiros was rushed to the hospital with multiple breaks to his jaw, nose, orbit and palate and lacerations requiring more than 20 stitches. He had to have multiple surgeries… (LINK TO STORY)


We’re taking a summer hiatus, so please enjoy some our favorite past episodes in the interim:

BG Podcast Episode 23: Discussing Ch. 380 Agreements with David Colligan- Acting Assistant Director, Austin Economic Development Department

Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with returning guest David A. Colligan, Acting Assistant Director Economic Development Department, City of Austin.

A follow-up to Episode 12, David and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss the Austin City Council’s passage of a framework for restructuring the city’s economic incentives programs (on August 30, 2018) with the goal of increasing small business growth and improving job opportunities for lower-wage and middle-skill workers.

Chapter 380 Agreements, part of the Local Government Code, authorize municipalities to offer incentives designed to promote economic development such as commercial and retail projects.


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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