BG Reads | News You Need to Know (March 29, 2019)

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[AUSTIN METRO]

Amazon Says It's Bringing 800 More Jobs To Austin (KUT)

Amazon will create 800 new jobs in engineering, research and cloud computing in Austin, the tech giant announced Thursday.

In a press release, the company said it would build a 145,000-square-foot office at the Domain in North Austin to accommodate the new hires. It said it plans to open the office next year.

"With a strong pool of technical talent in Austin and a dynamic quality of life, we are excited to continue to expand and create more opportunity in this vibrant city," Terry Leeper, general manager of Amazon’s Austin operations, said.

Amazon has roughly 7,000 employees in the Austin area, including those at Whole Foods, which it acquired in 2016. The company says it has created 22,000 jobs in Texas since 2011…

Link to story


Sale plan could make ‘terrible’ Hobby state office building a hot property (Austin American-Statesman)

The 35-year-old William P. Hobby state office building in downtown Austin needs a whopping $50 million in repairs to shore up decrepit plumbing, overhaul electrical systems and patch or replace various other dilapidated components — and that might not even address what some workers there contend is a serious rat infestation.

But it soon could be among the most-sought-after commercial real estate properties in the city.

“There would be a very long line of people” seeking to buy the property if it were for sale, local real estate consultant Charles Heimsath said. “They’d be interested in the (land), not the building — the building is terrible.”

Heimsath’s assessment — that the Hobby building, at 333 Guadalupe St., is in terrible shape but the city block it sits on is extremely valuable — is widely shared by state lawmakers and administrators who oversee state-owned facilities, and they’ve taken initial steps to put the property on the market through a procedure that requires approval of the Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott…

Link to story


Survey: Austin tech industry grew by 5,200 jobs in 2018 (Austin American-Statesman)

The Austin tech industry added 5,200 jobs in 2018, according to a new report by the Computing Technology Industry Association, a nonprofit tech research entity.

In total, net tech employment grew by 3.5 percent, making Austin the the 18th-fastest growing city in terms of net tech employment. Austin has added 44,500 tech-related jobs since 2010, CompTIA reported. Software and web developer jobs were among the most in-demand last year, CompTIA reported, with those sectors expanding by about 5.8 percent year-over-year.

Growth is coming both from the numerous tech startups in the area and also from expansions by major tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple. Last year, Austin metro-area companies saw a total of $1.33 billion invested, the most since the dot-com boom era of 2000, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights, which track venture capital deals in the United States.

“The tech industry touches virtually every community, industry and market, especially when you consider the tens of thousands of knowledge workers who rely on technology to do their jobs,” CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux said in a written statement…

Link to story


Hotel, condo, stores proposed for South Lamar site where Taco Cabana once stood (Austin Business Journal)

A prominent site at the corner of South Lamar Boulevard and West Riverside Drive just south of downtown Austin — at one time the home of a Taco Cabana restaurant — may finally be developed.

A preliminary site plan was filed Feb. 12 for an eight-story mixed-use project with space for stores, offices, a restaurant, a hotel and condominiums on the prime lot across Riverside Drive from the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail along Lady Bird Lake. It's across South Lamar from the Zach Theatre.

The site plan calls for a 107-room hotel; 25 luxury condominiums, including 18 two-bedroom units, five three-bedroom units and one five-bedroom unit; 8,592 square feet of retail space; 1,008 square feet of office space; and 7,877 square feet of restaurant space…

Link to story


[TEXAS]

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Investigates San Antonio For Banning Chick-fil-A From Its Airport (KUT)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating the city of San Antonio for potential First Amendment violations after the City Council voted to prevent Chick-fil-A — a franchise known for opposing same-sex marriage — from opening a location in the city’s airport.

“The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-A’s chicken,” Paxton, a Republican, wrote in a Thursday letter to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the rest of the council. “Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.”

In a 6-4 vote, the council voted last week to keep the franchise from opening at the San Antonio International Airport. The decision quickly drew national headlines and condemnations from conservatives across the country…

Link to story


U.S. House committee investigating Texas voter roll review (Texas Tribune)

The U.S. House’s main investigative committee has opened an inquiry into the Texas secretary of state’s review of the voter rolls for supposed noncitizens.

In letters sent to top Texas officials on Thursday, U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, requested documents and communications from the secretary of state and the state’s attorney general related to the review through which state officials tagged almost 100,000 registered voters as suspect voters…

Link to story


Texas Senate aligns with House on how much to spend on education, property tax reform (Texas Tribune)

The Texas Senate’s budget-writing committee on Thursday approved adding billions more dollars for public education and property tax reform to the upper chamber's base spending plan, bringing the total to $9 billion — the same amount the Texas House wants to spend on those items.

Senate and House leaders had prioritized public education and property tax relief this year. But until Thursday, they had disagreed about how much to spend.

Previously, the Senate had wanted to spend $3.7 billion to boost educator pay and $2.3 billion for property tax relief, for a total of $6 billion. Early on in the legislative session, the House proposed pumping $6.3 billion into public education — contingent on the passage of a measure overhauling the way the state funds schools — and $2.7 billion on property tax relief, for a total of $9 billion…

Link to story


[NATION]

Trump owns the economy now, for better or worse (New York Times)

President Trump is getting exactly what he wants on the economy, just as it starts to slow down.

The Federal Reserve has abruptly stopped its march toward higher interest rates, as Mr. Trump demanded. The tax cuts he signed in late 2017 are in full swing. His attempt to rewrite the global rules of trade are underway, and he proclaims himself happy with the array of new tariffs he has imposed. His recent comments suggest he is unconcerned about slowdowns in China and Europe, which he considers economic rivals…

Link to story


Boeing, initially defensive, now ‘humbled’ by 737 Max crisis (Washington Post)

In the weeks after a Boeing jetliner crashed in the Java Sea near Indonesia last year, killing all 189 people on board, the manufacturer defended the plane’s safety features and publicly resisted calls to make changes to its system and pilot training procedures.

This month, following a second deadly crash of a 737 Max, a worldwide grounding of the planes by regulators, a stock slide and the loss of a multibillion-dollar contract, Boeing is taking a new approach. The company invited hundreds of pilots and airline partners to its Renton, Wash., assembly facility Wednesday in a hastily arranged meeting to explain new safety enhancements…

Link to story


[BG PODCAST]

Episode 40: Discussing Austin's Affordability Unlocked Resolution with Megan Lasch

(Run time - 15:57)

On today’s episode we speak with Megan Lasch, with Saigebrook Development, an Austin-based affordable housing development firm.

She and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss the Affordabilty Unlocked resolution, passed unanimously by Austin’s City Council on February 21, 2019.

The overall objectives contained in the resolution are to:

  • Maximize affordable housing;

  • Make it easier and less costly to build affordable housing; and

  • Allow affordable housing in high-opportunity areas and areas facing and susceptible to gentrification 

City staff have until May 9 of this year to present a draft ordinance to Council.

She and A.J. also discuss the overall model of for profit affordable housing, and its fit in the Austin development community.

Megan is a graduate of Oklahoma State University (B.S. Engineering). You can learn more about her, here.

This episode was recorded on February 27, 2019.

You can listen to this episode and previous ones on iTunes, Google Play, and STITCHER at the links below. Please leave a review and rating. Share and subscribe today!

Links:

Link to executed resolution (City of Austin)

Link to Council resolution presentation (City of Austin)

Saigebrook Development (Company page)

Saigebrook Development Facebook

Link to Episode 40


[BLOG]

Bingham Group CEO Receives Rice University MBA Part-time Faculty Appointment

Bingham Group Founder and CEO A.J. Bingham has accepted a part-time faculty appointment teaching an MBA level course on Business-GovernmentRelations (MGMT 561) at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

The course begins in May and will be conducted through video conference.

A.J. previously taught a similar MBA level course at Austin’s Concordia University in 2015.

ABOUT

Named in honor of the late Jesse H. Jones, a prominent Houston business and civic leader, Rice Business is consistently ranked among the nation's top business schools.


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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