On the horizon

In this Austin American-Statesman feature interview, Chamber board chair-elect Nikki Graham shares her thoughts on the resilience of the regional economy, areas of local concern, PPP rollout, and other issues.

  • “When I agreed to be the chair-elect, the (Austin-area) economy was much different than it is now,” Graham said in a recent interview. “But I think that we are in a unique situation where my business experience with Bank of America, coupled with all the work that I have done in communities, probably puts me in a unique situation to lead the chamber at this time.”

*Image courtesy of Austin American-Statesman

As the Chamber looks ahead and sets priorities, our president and CEO Laura Huffman spoke with the Austin Business Journal about how our region can continue our trajectory of growth.

“The No. 1 issue that is raised to us as companies look, not just across the state or the nation but around the world, on where they can locate, they want homegrown workforce,” said Laura Huffman, president and CEO of the Austin Chamber. “So, our ability to educate and train people to be ready for the jobs that are coming is important to our agenda.”

Join us on February 3rd for the Chamber's Annual Meeting, our premier member event where we celebrate the Austinite of the Year and Volunteers of the Year, learn about the Chamber's priorities for 2021, and announce the 2021 Chamber Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

Austin rose to the top in 2020

Looking back at 2020, this Austin Business Journal article shares the Austin area's biggest corporate relocations and expansions, citing:

It was actually a record year for the number of positions announced from corporate relocations and expansions to the Austin area. According to a tally from Opportunity Austin — the economic development initiative of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce — 39 companies announced plans in 2020 to create nearly 9,900 jobs across the Austin metro by the end of November.

In KVUE's Boomtown 2040 segment, they report that in addition to Tesla's Gigafactory in the Southeast Austin region, The Boring Company may be coming to Pfugerville.

The Chamber also found its way into this Charlotte Observer article citing a U-Haul report that lists Texas as the second-highest growth state of 2020. The article quotes Chamber president and CEO Laura Huffman as she explains to CNN why the Austin region is an appealing choice:

“I also would not underestimate the importance of quality of life,” Huffman told CNN. “There are a lot of things about this community — it’s got a great local flavor, a great music scene, it’s an outdoors city. That’s where people want to be. I think 2020 has taught us all that we have more choice when it comes to where we live.”

This Culture Map Austin article listing Austin as the top city for workers relocating during pandemic also quotes Laura echoing this sentiment:

“That quality of life is a winning characteristic time and time again,” Huffman said.

All these corporate and worker relocations to the area are fueling housing demand, as addressed in this Builder Online article, citing:

  • Wells Fargo senior economist Sarah House, who spoke to the Austin Chamber at a recent event, said Austin “was an outperformer and a highflier before the pandemic, and the pandemic hasn’t changed that,” relatively speaking. The city “hasn’t been able to escape the downturn that we have seen nationally, [but] it has been much more modest” in Austin than either statewide or nationally, House said. In November, the city’s unemployment rate shrank to 5.9%, one of the best in the nation. And more jobs are coming, which should fuel home building.

This ExecutiveGov article features another Chamber event where Chamber board chair Craig Enoch chatted with General John Murray, commanding general of U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) to discuss the AFC’s pursuits, including those related to cyber defense, COVID-19 response and technology engagements in Austin.

  • Sign up to receive our events calendar, and never miss a Chamber event.

    Get on the list

Recognition & awards

As mentioned in this Teslarati article, the Austin Chamber is the recipient of the Business Facilities‘ 2020 Deal of the Year Gold Award for its work on bringing Tesla's Giga Texas to the Austin region. Read more about this prestigious award.

And our beloved Opportunity Austin Chair, Gary Farmer has been recognized as a 2020 Texas Commercial Real Estate Icon by REDnews, as well as OA investors Greg Weaver of Catellus Development Corp and Amy Madison of Pflugerville Community Development Corp. Congratulations to all!

  • Interested in receiving economic news and other Chamber updates?

    Our topical newsletters help you stay in-the-know about upcoming webinars, business news, and economic updates.

    Sign up!

Related Categories: Chamber, Economic Development, Press