Small Business Procurement Fair – Don’t miss out!

ProcurementFair-Header generic_48034916Our Small Business Procurement Fair is designed to connect small businesses to large buyers. With the goal of facilitating the process of making connections, attendance to this event will open up opportunities to meet prospective buyers and contracting officers from large companies and government agencies to discuss business opportunities. Many attendees benefit from these connections, including 2013 event attendee Chelsea Miller of Freytag’s Florist, “The event on Wednesday was a huge success for me, and thank you so much to the chamber for hosting it!” Participating companies include Austin Community College, Capital Metro, Dell, Spansion, Websense, Texas DPS, and more!

Not only will you get a chance to make favorable connections for your company, but there will also be a series of break-out sessions to be better informed about the procurement process. Zoe McDowell of Xplorastory found all of the classes she attended last year to be very helpful. Examples of past educational sessions  include:

• “Show Me the Money!: SBA Access to Capital”, Lionel Davila, U.S. Small Business Administration
• “Top 10 List of Government Contracting”, Sean Smith, U.S. Small Business Administration
• “Pricing Government Proposals: Don’t Make These 5 Common Mistakes!”, Ronald S. Marta, CPA University of Houston SBDC
• “How to get a Contract and What to do once You Have It.”, Patti Winstanley, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

2015 educational line up will be announced soon. Jeff Wolfe, VP Install Sales for ONTILITY and 2013 attendee claimed that “This was the best event I’ve attended with the Chamber!” Make the most of your Chamber membership and don’t miss out on the pre-registration discounted price – Register today!

When: March 3, 2015
Time: 1:00-4:30pm
Where: Chamber Offices

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25+ Year Chamber Members Honored

KleinfelderIt’s a privilege working with such incredible partners here at the Chamber. We’re proud to have a dedicated membership and had the pleasure of thanking our 25 and 50 year members recently. Members were honored at the Chamber’s quarterly Chairman’s and President’s Advisory Board reception on Tuesday, February 17.

Thank you for your support and work you’ve done for our region by being members of the Austin Chamber of Commerce!

50+ Years

25+ Years

To view photos from the event, please visit our Flickr page.


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Energy Thought Summit 2015: Chamber Member Discount


Are you interested in energy and tech in Austin?  The Energy Thought Summit (ETS) brings together the world’s thought leaders to discuss the future of energy. Join keynotes such as David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy & Badar Khan, CEO of Direct Energy in addition to 100+ energy thought leaders for ETS15. The event will include discussions on topics such as the state and future of renewables, cyber security, sustainability, and many more!

When: March 25 – 26, 2015
Where: AT&T Conference Center, 1900 University Ave, Austin, TX, 78705

Chamber members receive a 20% discount if they register with the code “ETS15ac20” by February 20! Click here to register.

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Reaching New Heights: 2014 Air Service in Review

By Natalie Croutharmel, Director of Business Retention & Expansion

Natalie-Croutharmel-webMy favorite moment in my role as the Austin Chamber liaison to Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) is happening right now: celebrating a record-breaking year and preparing for new air service for 2015. A great deal of preparation goes into new air service — gathering an abundance of data, creating a business case for Austin, and educating the Central Texas business community on what this might mean for Austin air service in the next few years.

Developing a new route is a challenging process, and I can’t help but to think back to the stories I’ve heard about the introductory conversations ABIA had with British Airways in 2003, and how that relationship took years to develop before we were able to land the route.  The Central Texas community was also doubtful about the vitality of the destination in the beginning. Now, British Airways’ 787 Dreamliner is the topic of choice for most Austinites and this first intercontinental and transatlantic flight provided an economic impact of more than $70 million, as well as, 1,100 jobs.

It’s exciting to be a part of these conversations that could change Austin dramatically – for the better, of course.  We’re increasing connectivity and making Austin an international destination.  In preparing for my upcoming meetings, I’m reminded of how successful 2014 was for Air Service in Austin. Here are a few takeaways from last year:

Air Service Re-Cap

In 2008, the Austin Chamber of Commerce created the Air Service Task Force to assist the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) with recruitment and retention of air service to Central Texas.  Comprised of industry, education and aviation partners, this task force advocates for additional infrastructure to the airport, additional nonstop flights, and additional carriers to diversify ABIA.

As a result of our efforts, along with immense local business support, ABIA saw record-breaking passenger numbers in 2014, with more than 10.7 million travelers.  This is the fourth consecutive year ABIA has set a record for passenger traffic and the airport will continue to grow from here with routes, carriers and infrastructure.

Austin is seeing the most air service growth in the entire Texas triangle — only one medium hub airport in the continental U.S. grew faster than ABIA.  There is a current net gain of 4 nonstop destinations per year, with the number of transatlantic passengers up 38% in the last 5 years, and the number of transpacific passengers up 24% in the last 4 years. However, the Austin Transpacific market is running about 10 years behind the transatlantic market.

This year, we saw Austin’s first transatlantic nonstop flight to London make history for our region and put Austin on the map as an international destination.  Other nonstop international destinations at ABIA include Toronto, Cabo and Cancun. We continue to seek new opportunities to diversify our airport.

 2014 Air Service Announcements

  • Air Canada
    • May 2015: Toronto-Pearson (YYZ)
  • Allegiant
    • February 2015: Orlando-Sanford (SFB)
  • American Airlines
    • March 2015: Miami (MIA)
  • Branson Air Express
    • May 2015: Branson (BKG)
  • British Airways
    • March 2014: London (LHR)
  • Delta
    • June 2015: Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Southwest Airlines
    • June 2015: St. Louis (STL) and Orange County (SNA)
  • Texas Sky
    • November 2014: New carrier; service to DFW and Victoria (VCT)

In my next blog, I’ll highlight some of the Air Service Goals for 2015.

Natalie Croutharmel, Director of Business Retention & Expansion
In her role as Director of Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) for the Austin Chamber, Natalie’s goal is to match existing companies with the resources within Central Texas to promote economic growth and job creation. As part of the Economic Development team, Natalie is tasked with assisting the retention and growth of businesses currently located in the greater Austin region from start-up through maturity. For any assistance with your existing Central Texas company and/or air service inquiries, please contact:


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Chamber Recognizes Honorees, Announces New Space Initiative during Annual Meeting

The Austin Chamber hosted its 137th Annual Meeting at the end of January to celebrate successes from the past year and look ahead to the future.  More than 850 attendees were on hand to hear about the continued success of the Austin economy and priorities for 2015, as well as recognize the Chamber’s Volunteers and Austinite of the Year.

“It was a true privilege serving as Chairman this past year,” said Jack McDonald, 2014 Chairman of the Austin Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Upland Software. “Thanks to the 2014 Executive Committee members and the board of directors who took time out from families and business to serve — we would not be where we are today without the heavy lifting of these dedicated business leaders.”

In 2014, the Chamber helped to drive success and progress in several key areas:

  • Austin again achieved high rankings in several national research reports and surveys, including the following:
    • Fastest Growing Economy in the US through 2020
    • #1 Top Metro in Economic Growth since Pre-Recession
    •  #2 Metro in Attracting Families
    •  #3 America’s Coolest Cities
    •  #3 City to Educate, Entertain & Exhaust Your Kids
    •  #7 Global Top 20 Dynamic Cities
  • Corporate relocations in the region were at an all-time as 64 companies announced moves to Central Texas – the most since the inception of Opportunity Austin in 2004.  Some of the notable company moves were Charles Schwab (800 jobs); Websense Headquarters (500 jobs); Box (200 jobs); and Athenahealth (600 jobs).
  • In addition, 63 local companies announced that they were expanding their operations in 2014, creating hundreds of new jobs and adding additional economic benefit to the region.
  • Venture capital funding in Austin last year hit a 13-year record high of over $1 billion, a level not seen since the dotcom era.
  • Our nationally recognized public education initiatives all achieved high water marks in 2014 including a record 83% of our region’s 16,000 high school graduates applying for college.  Thanks in part to the Chamber’s Financial Aid Saturday program, more than two-thirds of those students completed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, the only way students and families can become eligible for grants, scholarships and subsidized loans.
  • On transportation, we saw continued progress on MOPAC construction and engineering work for two new lanes on I-35 as we’ll as several other road and highway projects.   Additionally, the Chamber led the way on telecommuting initiatives, convening our four major broadband companies, promoting Mobility Week and securing the participation of major employers to reduce traffic through telecommuting and flex schedules.



McDonald welcomed Gene Austin, president and CEO, Bazaarvoice, as the new Chairman for 2015. During his remarks on 2015 Chamber priorities, which included attracting companies and jobs to the region, focusing on transportation concerns and increasing college and career readiness, Gene Austin announced the addition of Space Technology & Exploration as one of the Chamber’s key industries for future economic development.  Through Opportunity Austin, the Chamber’s five-county economic development initiative, the addition will open the door for job expansion.  This will also include the development of the rapidly-growing commercial space exploration industry, as well as related technologies. To learn more about this exciting announcement click here. In addition, several volunteers were recognized for their outstanding service and support to the Chamber community.



2014 Volunteers of the Year

  • Communications: Michael Westgate, W2O Group
  • Economic Development: Mike Wilson, LegalZoom
  • Education:Tony Budet, University Federal Credit Union
  • Federal and State Advocacy: Janis Carter, Winstead  PC
  • Local and Regional Policy: Hi Thai, Windstream Communications and Rene Campos, MarketMailPrint
  • Membership Development: Fred Meyers, Kuper Southeby’s International Realty
  • Membership Engagement:  Mary Dawson, Extended Stay America
  • Regional Mobility: Bill Blackstone, Rackspace
  • Talent: Melissa Anthony Sinn, anthonyBarnum Public Relations
  • Technology and Innovation: Bob Metcalfe, University of Texas at Austin

mayorMayor Lee Leffingwell was recognized as Austinite of the Year, the Chamber’s highest honor, for his hard work and dedication to the Austin community.  In his comments, the former Mayor expressed gratitude to all of his supporters.  He highlighted the progress that the community made together during his two terms as Mayor including an aggressive strategy that the City and Chamber undertook to attract and retain great jobs in targeted industries, using economic incentives. According to Leffingwell, “We all know that this city is like no other.  It’s a special place, with a special quality of life.  My one overriding goal as mayor was to simply leave Austin at least a little better than I found it.” The former Delta pilot, who received two standing ovations, concluded his remarks by sharing a fond wish to Austin for the future using the words of Willie Nelson: “nothin’ but blue skies from now on.”

If you missed the Annual Meeting, check out our social media re-cap of the event, here.

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