Pros­per­ity pro­jected for Austin

Forecast

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - By Dan Zehr dzehr@states­man.com

While plenty of ques­tions still sur­round the na­tional and global economies, Cen­tral Texas will con­tinue to pros­per over the next two years, ac­cord­ing to Austin eco­nomic con­sul­tant An­ge­los An­gelou.

In his 27th an­nual eco­nomic forecast Tues­day morn­ing, An­gelou said he sees no sign that the Austin area popu- la­tion and econ­omy won’t power through 2013 and 2014. In fact, he said, growth will likely ac­cel­er­ate.

“We will have a healthy econ­omy, the envy of many cities around the coun­try,” he told the crowd gath­ered at the Univer­sity of Texas’ AT&T Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­u­ca­tion Con­fer­ence Cen­ter. “Austin to­day leads the charts on ev­ery mea-

sure of eco­nomic growth one can think of.”

The area’s al­ready boom­ing pop­u­la­tion will ex­pand an­other 7 per­cent by 2014, An­gelou said, coming just a tick short of the 2 mil­lion mark. Mean­while, Austin em­ploy­ers will add 29,000 jobs next year and an­other 30,000 in 2014, he said.

An­gelou called that a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate, not­ing his forecast for 2012 was 19,500 new jobs. Austin em­ploy­ers are on pace to cre­ate about 25,000 jobs this year. As of Oc­to­ber, Austin-area busi­nesses ac­counted for 824,300 jobs, ac­cord­ing to Texas Work­force Com­mis­sion data.

“We don’t want to over­shoot with our num­bers, but … I’m very bullish for the lo­cal econ­omy and its prospects for the next year,” he said.

Real es­tate, en­ter­tain­ment and what An­gelou called “Austin­preneur­ship” will con­tinue to fuel Cen­tral Texas’ growth.

Vir­tu­ally ev­ery real es­tate sec­tor is stretched to­ward ca­pac­ity, he and a panel of lo­cal real es­tate ex­perts said. Hous­ing prices will in­crease with sup­plies tighter and de­mand ac­cel­er­at­ing af­ter the mild slow­down of re­cent years.

Austin is draw­ing more and more vis­i­tors to long­stand­ing events, such as South by South­west, as well as new in­ter­na­tional events, such as the For­mula One grand prix. Ho­tel rates and oc­cu­pan­cies re­main re­mark­ably strong, gen­er­at­ing tax rev­enue for the area.

The high-tech sec­tor will con­tinue to drive Austin in­no­va­tion and eco­nomic growth, An­gelou noted. The es­tab­lish­ment of a med­i­cal school, along with in­com­ing com­pa­nies such as Ap­ple, Gen­eral Mo­tors and, po­ten­tially, Visa will tur­bocharge both eco­nomic and job ex­pan­sion.

Med­i­cal school, in­com­ing firms will tur­bocharge growth.

So far in 2012, Austin has re­ceived two-thirds of all the ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vested in Texas, An­gelou said, up from a typ­i­cal rate of 40 per­cent. That level of in­vest­ment helps build home­grown com­pa­nies, but also at­tracts more work­ers and busi­nesses from out­side. For ex­am­ple, An­gelou pre­dicted that Ap­ple could have as many as 12,000 work­ers in Austin by the time it com­pletes its ex­pan­sion here.

A panel of in­dus­try ex­perts ex­pressed sim­i­lar — and in some cases, even more — op­ti­mism for the Cen­tral Texas econ­omy over the next two years.

“In Austin, we pretty much have it all,” said Mike Kennedy, pres­i­dent and CEO of Com­mer­cial Texas, a real es­tate ser­vices firm. “Let’s en­joy it.”

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