Could You Imagine Austin Without UT?

Without The University of Texas, Austin would not be what it is today.


Could you image Austin without UT? Neither Could we.

The Chamber has a long history with the Texas Longhorns.  In 1881, we worked with Alexander P. Woolridge on an intense public relations battle versus Tyler, Waco, and Lampasas to promote Austin to the people of Texas as the best location for the University of Texas (UT). The Texas Constitution called for the Legislature to establish a first-class university to be located by a vote of the people.  On September 6, 1881, the people voted.

In 1921, we took swift action to help UT expand the original 40 acres.  We worked to secure options for 132 acres of additional land. This was a key moment that essentially ended the threat of UT leaving Austin.  Today UT’s main campus is 431 acres.

Collaboration on Health, Technology and Education Initiatives

  • We supported the development of the new Dell Medical School at UT. It’s the first medical school in 50 years to be built from the ground up at a Tier One Research University.  The school was created in partnership with local taxpayers who voted in 2012 to support a vision for better health in Austin and Travis County.
  • The Chamber is also working to expand the related life sciences business sector in Central Texas. This will further diversify our economy.  It is expected to drive $2 billion in annual related economic impact and more than 15,000 new, permanent jobs for the region.
  • We work with the UT Austin stARTup Studio run by Bob Metcalf, co-inventor of Ethernet, to drive commercialization of new technologies. We also partner with the UT Ray Marshall Center on numerous initiatives to improve K-12 education throughout Central Texas and help more high school students get ready for and go to postsecondary education.
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Milestone Participation for Austin Gives

Austin Gives, a philanthropic program of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, recently reached the milestone of 300 participating companies.

Businesses in Austin Gives donate 1 percent or more of their pre-tax earnings to the local community. This includes giving back through cash donations, volunteering and donation of products and services that strengthen the nonprofit sector.

“With a growing number of companies giving back, and an exceptional group of local volunteers on our council, we are well positioned to reach our goal of having 500 participating Austin Gives businesses by 2017,” said Beth Krueger, Executive Director of Austin Gives.

Austin Gives was created after an Intercity Visit to Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2010. Every year the Chamber visits another great city to learn about ways to apply successful civic practice to the Central Texas region. Following the best practices trip, then Chamber Chairman Bobby Jenkins made it his goal to develop a business recognition program. After surveying local businesses and nonprofits for input, Austin Gives was launched in 2011.

This program’s continued growth called for a new website with a new .gives address. This unique URL helps the program stand out. Visit the new Austin.Gives site here.


Standing left to right: Curtis Page, Higginbotham; Steve Visser, Workplace Resource. Seated left to Right: Leigh Christi, Entrepreneurs Foundation Central Texas; Debbie Johnson, Successful Giving; Jennifer Stevens, JHL Company; Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications. Not pictured: Debbie Bresette, United Way for Greater Austin; Bobby Jenkins, ABC Home and Commercial Services; Ed Kargbo, Yellow Cab; Mike Rollins Austin Chamber of Commerce; Lisa Trahan, St David’s Foundation; David Tripoli, Trulucks’s.

Read more about Austin Gives on Rightside, KLBJ, and the Chamber press release here.

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Chamber Ambassadors Volunteer at Charity Duck Race

Austin Chamber Ambassadors Rachelle Bell, Integrated Human Capital; Colleen Walsh, MOOD: Texas; and Gregg Speichinger; Reagan National Advertising; took part in the charitable Austin Duck Derby on August 8, 2015.  Chamber Ambassadors volunteer their time by reaching out on behalf of the Chamber to connect and make a difference in the Greater Austin community. They serve as the welcome arm of the Chamber, welcoming new members and promoting member involvement. Video.

The event is sponsored by various local companies and is held to the benefit of the Austin Boys & Girls Club Foundation.

The Second Annual Austin Duck Derby will feature 10,000 yellow adopted rubber ducks launched into the Lady Bird Lake which will race to the finish line winning prizes for their adopters. Proceeds from every duck adopted benefit the Austin Boys and Girls Club Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports and provides valuable assistance to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area which operate 22 clubs. We help over 12,000 kids each year (and over 1,700 each day) grow into healthy, responsible, caring young adults. via

Actual ducks adopted by the time of the race surpassed 12,000. The 2014 Austin Duck Derby raised $50,000 with the duck adoption and this year’s goal is $100,000.

Find out more about becoming an Austin Chamber Ambassador here.

Sources: Austin American-Statesman; TWC News.

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Skelding Nominated for 2015 Profile in Power


Austin Chamber’s Senior Vice President for Global Innovation and Technology Michele Skelding was nominated for the 2015 Austin Business Journal’s 21st Annual Profile in Power awards.

One of 30 finalists, Skelding was honored for her contribution to the business community as a Central Texas Woman of Influence. She has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry and has been instrumental in growing the startup ecosystem in Austin.

The Austin Business Journal’s annual Profiles in Power awards. A Profile in Power is a working woman of distinction that has gained recognition because she is a successful business owner or member of top management with a company or organization of any size and has given back to her community.

Austin Business Journal

A luncheon was held today to announce the winners and honor all of the nominees. To find out the winners and see more details on the event, visit the Austin Business Journal page here.

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Texas’ 88.3% High School Grad Rate Ranks State Third in Nation

Austin area school districts are continuing to improve high school graduation rates.

As mentioned in a recent article in the Austin American-Statesman, Austin district’s graduation rate rose almost 2 percentage points to 86.3 percent, according to the Texas Education Agency.

“Of particular note, Del Valle ISD, with 86% of students classified as low-income, has a 90% graduation rate,” said Drew Scheberle, Senior Vice President of Education and Talent for Austin Chamber of Commerce. “Texas has the 3rd highest graduation rate in the United States, a key proof point for showing why 93% of Travis County parents enroll their students in public schools.”

The Chamber has been co-reporting high school graduation rate improvements over the last several years in their nationally-recognized Education Progress Reports.

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