The Smartest City


Austin’s Mueller community and Pecan Street, Inc. received national attention recently with a feature in TIME about its energy-saving research. A research group in charge of the most extensive energy-tracking study in the U.S., Pecan Street is making unprecedented strides in the energy world here in Austin.

“Until just a few years ago, power utilities had two basic functions: to make sure they could meet the highest level of demand at any given moment-in Texas, that’s usually an afternoon in the late summer, when people start blasting their AC as soon as they arrive home from work-and to estimate how much electricity people use every month, a.k.a. the kilowatt-hours that show up on a utility bill.”

Mueller’s innovative tracking abilities allow Pecan Street to see the electricity used by homeowners on a minute-by-minute and appliance-by-appliance base. This type of data is groundbreaking and allows Pecan Street to adjust variables (such as solar power) to see its effects on both the use of energy, and the savings on the homeowners’ power bill.

“All of which means we may soon be living in a world where everyone likes their energy bills as much as Mueller’s McAtee. ‘Saving the environment is good,’ he says. ‘But financially viable–that’s good too.’ “

Read the full article, Is This America’s Smartest City?, here.

Posted in Chamber, Clean Technology, Global Technology & Innovation | Leave a comment

Austin among 10 best cities to launch a startup

CNN Money named Austin, TX among the best places in the country to launch a startup. Ranking #7, Austin has a low unemployment rate, low cost of living and an educated population. According to a NerdWallet study, 40% have a bachelor’s degree or higher making Austin a landing spot for newbie entrepreneurs.

“Texas is one of the few states with no individual or corporate income tax, which is another benefit”, said Michele Skelding, SVP of Global Technology and Innovation at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. ”There’s over $600 million in VC money in Texas and 50% of that goes through Austin.”

austin blog

To view the full article click here.

Posted in Chamber, Economic Development, Global Technology & Innovation | Leave a comment

Austin again earns A+ grade for small business friendliness

Nationwide survey ranks Austin as one of five cities in Texas to win praise from small businesses, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, today released new data showing that Austin earned an A+ for its friendliness towards small business.

More than 12,000 entrepreneurs nationwide participated in this year’s survey. The Small Business Friendliness Survey is the largest survey of its kind and is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide sample of small business owners themselves to determine the most business-friendly locations. This year they were able to rate 82 cities and most states across multiple metrics that business owners say are critical to a friendly business environment.

“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, Austin earned the highest possible grade from its small business community,” said Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and Austin has consistently been in the top of our ratings as one of the best places in America for small businesses to start and grow.”

GradesSome of the key findings for Austin – and Texas generally – include:

  • Austin’s tax code took the number one spot as the friendliest to small businesses in the country.
  • Five Texas cities made the top ten for overall business friendliness – Houston (#3), Austin (#4), Dallas (#6), Fort Worth (#7), and San Antonio (#8).
  • Austin’s regulatory friendliness scores were the second highest in the country, and it received an A+ for its health and safety, labor, tax, and licensing regulations.
  • Small businesses gave Austin’s training programs an A+ grade and rated them 4th best in the country.
  • The top rated cities overall were Colorado Springs, Boise, Houston, Austin, and Louisville.

The full survey results can be seen here and include full sets of rankings for cities and states going back three years, along with dozens of easily searchable quotes from Austin small businesses. The full methodology paper can be found here.

“With no state income tax and lower business taxes, Texas is an environment where small and large businesses can easily start up and thrive. That’s why businesses (and people) are leaving places like New York and California in droves. Those states over-regulate and overtax their businesses out of business. By contrast, Texas’ business-friendly model is an example for the rest of the country.”
- Photographer, Austin
Posted in Chamber, Small Business | Leave a comment

Celebrating Small Business

“Nice job today. The luncheon went like clockwork and I liked the way you handled the TX Small Business Awards. I thoroughly enjoyed eating my way thru the exhibit hall! It was well spaced and there was a good variety of resources and small businesses.” - Joy Miller, City of Austin SBDP

On Thursday, June 12th 2014 representatives from the Office of the Governor, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and key community leaders presented the Governor’s Small Business Forum and Showcase.  During the luncheon, Texas Workforce Commissioner Hope Andrade spoke about public and private resources for all businesses including women and minority-owned small businesses, veterans and those interested in expanding globally.


During the luncheon, a Small Business Owner Expert Panel Discussion, moderated by Leon Chen of Tiff’s Treats, discussed what inspired them to open a business, what struggles and successes have they’ve had, and more. The panel featured Laura Fowler of The Fowler Law Firm, Gil Jenkins of The Blues Crawlers, Thomas Miranda of Sparkovation, and Michael Portman of Bird’s Barbershops.

In addition to the discussion, a number of small businesses were recognized by the Office of the Governor and Texas Workforce Commission. We would like to congratulate the 2014 winners the State of Texas Small Business Awards which were presented to Ishmael Law Firm P.C, Strait Music, DEN Property Group. Encotech, Insidore P.L.L.C, and Villarreal Fine Jewelers.

Following the luncheon and awards, nearly 200 businesses took part in the small business showcase at the Palmer Events Center. Businesses were able to showcase their companies and benefit from the social networking environment. Attendees were also given the opportunity to attend a number of breakout sessions in which speakers presented a number of resources and ideas to improve their businesses. The speakers included:

  • Vicky Valdez, Manager of Small Business Development Program, City of Austin, spoke about the steps it takes to receive funding for growth and start-up of a small business
  • Randy Steinle, Board Member of The International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), spoke about preparing your business to withstand unexpected disasters
  •  Tiffany Daniels, Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board, introduced no-cost programs and services available to help local companies find, hire, and retail skilled employees
  • Dough Smith, Asst. Director of the International Trade Center at UTSA, Small Business Development Center, spoke about the importance and benefits of exporting from a small business perspective
  • Sarah Romer, Manager Retail Market Development for PayPal, an eBay Inc. company, spoke about the smartphone shopping revolution and the new mobile Point of Sale systems
  • Julie Niehoff Director of Education & Development, Constant Contact, Inc, spoke of simple ways to grow your business with email and social media

Favorite Tweet of the Day:

Having a sweet time at the #gsbftx with @HeyCupcakeATX! @TXGovSmallBiz


The Chamber would like to thank our speakers and all attendees for taking part in this great event! 

Posted in Chamber, Membership, Small Business | Leave a comment

SXSW Announces the First Wave of SXSW Eco Programming

Now going on to its fourth year, SXSW Eco is a conference that focuses on sustainability in today’s society. The environmental conference invites people from all over the world to actively explore the challenges of today and develop innovative solutions for a more sustainable world. Ranging from talks about policy, health, to new technologies, and even conservation of our resources, SXSW Eco unites in an effort to not only educate, but also renew ideas of sustainable living.

With the theme of “Where Urgency Meets Opportunity,” the 2014 SXSW Eco will take place from October 6th through the 8th at the Austin Convention Center. Earlier this week, the conference released the first round of confirmed programming for this upcoming fall. The announced programming is as follows:

Advocacy and Policy:

Behavior and Design:

Big Data and Technology:

  • A Fitbit to Save the Elephants  (Microsoft Research, Vulcan Inc., Save the Elephants, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park)
  • Space: Earth’s Newest Ally Against Climate Change (MissionCTRL Communications, zero2infinity, Lunar Lion)

Business and Finance:

Land and Water:

Health and Education:


Food Systems:

Smart Cities:


Click here to learn more about SXSW Eco

Posted in Chamber, SXSW | Leave a comment