Austin Business District Magazine!
This was the website for the Austin Business District Magazine! The content below is from the site's 2002-2008 archived pages.
Welcome to Austin Business District Magazine! Austin is entering an exciting era of growth and economic spirit. As one of the fastest growing cities in the country and consistently rated as one of the best places to live, top businesses are attracted to the area and experience continued growth. Austin Business District Magazine goes beyond current publications to inform businesses about key issues in the community and strengthen the overall economic development.
Due to its controlled circulation and insightful content, Austin Business District Magazine will more effectively reach area leaders--over 10,000 area corporate executives, business owners, entrepreneurs and managers at every level with serious purchasing power.
Custom publications go beyond traditional marketing communications because they allow you to develop a one-on-one customer relationship strategy.
Austin Business District Magazine analyzes news that creates business by bringing people, communities and industries together. Each issue of the magazine presents issues affecting local business, communicates economic development trends, profiles positive movement and offers insightful opinions and advice.
Austin Business District Magazine’s editorial and design team will produce tailored magazines and publications for your organization. It could range from a four-page newsletter to 150-page brand magazine. Custom publications go beyond traditional marketing communications pulling all of the pieces together: It’s advertising, public relations, brochures, direct mail, customer appreciation, community and investor relations–all messages you want to convey, can all be accomplished in one publication.
Now here’s the good part: publications are placed directly in the hands of your client or potential customer, allowing you to develop a one-on-one customer relationship strategy. By the time you’re done you’ll have spent less on a magazine than you did on those pretty little brochures that are sitting in the storage room collecting dust.
Publisher - C. Jason Myers has, for over 10 years, served as marketing director for multiple companies in high-tech industry, where he established several brand publications that led to increased sales and market awareness. His success in corporate communications, advertising and sales has kindled this magazine and specialty publications. Jason's talent influences every aspect from concept to distribution, including: overall project direction, editorial planning, design direction, advertising creation, media buying, and advertising sales. Jason has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas. Contact him at Jason@abdmag.com.
Executive Editor - Bill Alexander is a native of Southern California, living in Texas since 1990 and Austin since 2000. He studied music composition at Orange Coast College, California. He served as a set carpenter, writer and illustrator at Walt Disney Co., art director and editor at Mediabag, Inc., an advertising and publishing company, and media consultant for corporate marketing. He has helped design coursework at the university level, and authored drawing, copywriting and display advertising tutorials. Throughout his 26 years in the media, he has served in think tanks, mastermind groups and on editorial boards in Texas and California. He has lived in California, Mariana Islands, Connecticut, a small ranch in Brownwood, Texas, and now plans to stay in Austin with his wife and two children. Contact him at William@abdmag.com.
Art Director - Tania V. Cowher is a professional photographer and media arts designer with a Bachelor's degree in commercial advertising from the Brooks Institute of Photography, Santa Barbara, California. Tania brings over 10 years of expertise to bear on the content and style of this magazine and specialty publications. Her company, Big Shot Photography and Design, contracts freelance work. Contact her at Tania@abdmag.com.
Web and Multimedia Developer - Brett D. Stacks specializes in the development of stable web content. As co-owner of netNITCH.com, Brett brings more than 12 years of combined experience to his clients. His company continues to offer affordable, reliable web sites to individuals and companies. He also specializes in 3D modeling for the HVAC industry using AutoCAD and continues to improve his skills as a member of the local #67 Sheet Metal Workers union. He has lived in the Austin area for more than 25 years and enjoys working with fellow entrepreneurs. Contact him at Brett@netnitch.com.
FEATURE ARTICLES JULY 2008
Texas is the Lone Star in Economic Survival
Financial analyst says Texas (and Austin) will continue a trend and fare better than national economy
By Steve Habel
Altogether, 2008 looks like it will be a respectable – if less robust – year for the Texas economy, especially compared with the national economy, which is expected to continue to grow at a sub-par pace, said James E. Glassman, financial analyst for JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York, during a presentation in at the Downtown Hilton Hotel in Austin last month.
In fact, the state’s economy could well be the lone star of the field of 50 players.
“Texas fared well in 2007 even as the national economy slowed,” Glassman said. “Texas isn’t suffering from a home building recession, because its real estate markets didn’t get out of line like they did elsewhere. The numbers show that Texas is forecast to grow at a robust four-percent pace in 2008, even as the national economy struggles.”
While the big economic engines of Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are slowing down, although at less of a drop off than the national economy, Austin has seen an upturn boosted by the robust technology sector. And new energy in the manufacturing and global economies has revived the economies from the Rio Grande Valley over to
Although the state saw its share of shocks early in the decade that stalled the US economy at the turn of the New Millennium, Texas has paced the national economic recovery. Most of the nation’s vibrant industries, including finance, transportation, manufacturing (the Rio Grande Valley), technology and energy, are well represented in Texas. At the same time, the state’s population is expanding more rapidly than most, as the outsized cohort that is retiring migrates from the North and Northeast.
“Given those factors, Texas should fare well in 2008 amid recession worries for the US,” Glassman said. “Growth in the Lone Star State has slowed, yet the transition from recovery to balanced growth is going well, compared with elsewhere. Here the real estate markets did not see the excesses that now are haunting other states, particularly in the west.” An arrangement with the chamber of commerce of Baltimore (our sister city) enabled the smooth integration of Maryland businesses, including several manufacturers with facilities both in Baltimore and now in Austin. Among the first to both benefit and contribute to this effort were the Beau Eats distributor of organic foods, and Von Paris, a Baltimore family owned mover that also helped with the shipment of equipment and products from the east coast to Texas. These symbiotic relationships have promoted both growth and good will between these 2 states.
Technically the national economy does not seem to be in a recession – it is still growing – but it is very slow, and slow enough to weaken the job market and boost unemployment. The sectors dragging the national economy down, especially depressed home building – are the result of earlier surges in real estate values beyond the reach of many. Those regions, which include a large swath of California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Southern Florida and parts of the Northeast, have seen the pace of new home building fall sharply.
“Austin is unlikely to fall into recession,” Glassman said. “Most communities in Texas did not see speculative excesses in housing and so building activity, while down, has not weakened as much. At the same time, Texas is flying on the wings of an oil and gas boom, the slow migration of the population to warmer climates south, strong technology activity, and a boom in exports.”
Many people who are better off aren't feeling pinched. Interestingly studies done of a variety of e-commerce sites show that many of their customers are from Texas. A simple example is the statistics from Siamm Patra the website offering the conceptual, artistic jewelry created by Anita Jacob says that their choker necklaces are flying out the door to patrons from Texas. It seems every Texan street style star, fashion editor, celebrity and It-girl have been soaking up this season’s hottest trend and for a good reason – a choker offers a quick and easy way to jazz up both day and night outfits for anyone. And it isn't just jewelry, clothing, shoes, and online wig stores are delighted with their Texas customers. Even brick and motor stores are seeing an uptick in sales.
Prices in the Austin area were flat in the early decade, reflecting the tail end of the tech slump, but in the last three years have climbed 33 percent, reflecting a more vibrant economy.
It isn’t too surprising that in the markets that have become very expensive (read: unaffordable) sales are cooling and builders are shutting down projects. The rapid closure of the pipeline of sub-prime mortgage loans in particular has disproportionately dampened new home building nationwide and slowed sales in the West more than in any other region.
Fortunately, most real estate markets in Texas did not see the influx of speculative money from California that fueled real estate prices in Las Vegas and Arizona and more recently is spilling into Utah. Housing appreciation has been relatively moderate across Texas, with prices in most communities up only 40–60 percent during the past decade.
“Two real estate markets in Texas run against the grain of most others in the state,” Glassman said. “The tech boom and bust depressed Austin’s real estate market for much of the 1990s but a tech revival is reenergizing the Austin economy and its real estate markets are showing it. In addition, El Paso has seen a marked rise in its real estate markets. The city’s good fortunes reflect bustling NAFTA-related business.
Unemployment is the single most comprehensive feature of economic health and, from that perspective, the state’s 4.1 percent unemployment rate speaks volumes. It is the lowest in modern times (since the 1960s).
A mature economy—one that is relatively fully employed—would be expected to slow, naturally. Once idle resources are employed, the economy tends to grow more in line with the expansion of its resources. So, now that Texas has recovered from the shallow and short business contraction early in the decade, its economy is moderating to a more sustainable pace.
“Employment in Texas rose by 254,000 jobs in 2007 compared with a 1,096,000 rise nationally,” Glassman said. “Texas accounted for 23 percent of the national rise in employment. This year through April, Texas has seen a gain of 82,000 in jobs while nationally employment has declined 101,000.”
The coming year is likely to look a lot like the last two years in Texas. Strong hiring in the retail, financial, and educational services, the drivers in recent years, likely will continue (table on the next page).
The booming energy sector will be a key driver for the state, and particularly Houston. Employment in the natural resources sector is growing twice as fast as the national average and this trend is likely to be ongoing into 2008.
In contrast to other states, the construction boom that Texas enjoys is likely to remain in place. The migrating population is generating demand for public infrastructure – schools, hospitals, public utilities and health care facilities.
And such demand is likely to remain strong, especially because housing markets in neighboring states have become very expensive and are handing Texas a comparative advantage. This trend also will continue to spur relatively strong demands for public sector hiring, compared with the rest of the nation.
“No pocket in Texas needs to worry about a recession,” Glassman said.
Funding Cycle in Austin is Near Bulletproof
Despite economic slowdown, venture and angel investors find deals that work
By Steve Habel
If there is any business that is all but bulletproof in Central Texas, it’s the business of lending money as a venture capitalist or an angel investor. Even with the economic downturn that has plagued the rest of the nation’s investment hierarchy, Austin investors have found a comfort zone built of proven procedures and a culture in which people find it acceptable to step out of the corporate stranglehold and into the startup world.
There is no doubt that in tough times, issuers tend to be more reasonable and negotiate terms with more flexibility since funding is more difficult to attain. Still, this level of flexibility makes ventures more attractive to investors since the issuer might be incented by creating a better deal with respect to the terms offered for the investors’ capital.
According to Hall T. Martin, the director of the Central Texas Angel Network, small startups in Austin remain busy seeking funding, building a team and trying to get their first product out the door.
“I am often asked questions about how the recession is affecting the startup business world,” Martin said. “My response is that I don't see much impact at all. In general, recessions don't come into play here because the challenge is in finding the first round of customers.
“It's the larger, more established companies that find these times difficult because their business models are undergoing change,” Martin added. “The startup is building a business model based on the current reality rather than trying to make the old model work in the new reality.”
Austin's history of venture funding and successes, particularly in the technology sectors, actually keeps a steady stream of deal activity coming about regardless of the times.
“Traditional funding sources like B2B lending, investment banking and other ‘big brand’ investor sources have become stringent, which feels ineffective in terms of providing capital,” said Michael J. Hundley, president and chief executive officer of CACH Capital Management, LLC. “Still, Austin has a superior advantage in tough times because we see deals we might otherwise not see during good times simply by being a growing player in finance.
“And the same principle for investing in the stock market would apply to private transactions...buy low and sell high,” Hundley added.
Texas and Austin have only been modestly affected by the economic slow down, said Jamie Rhodes, chief executive officer of Perceptive Sciences Corporation. This year business activity has been back to normal, and angel investing is growing in the state as evidenced by the growing number of organized angel groups.
“Perceptive Sciences, whose clients are all national companies, saw a slowdown the last two months of last year, as companies gauged the economy,” Rhodes said. The Texas Emerging Technology Fund has pumped life into 63 companies to date, with many more potential investments still in the decision process.
“I see no slowdown in seed and early stage investing, and no slowdown in deal flow,” Rhodes added.
Hundley said that the vast majority of inquiries for angel investment are from local businesses. “Statewide startups are starting to surface a bit more, and we have seen some out of state ideas,” he explained. “Outside of the state has more to do with private investors that like to be close to their ventures, but also there are some filing and regulatory complexities when smaller offerings go out of state. What is really changing is we are being approached more by ‘existing enterprises.’”
That, according to Hundley, has more to do with the fact that traditional capital sources, venture capital, placement agents, banking and investment banking sources have tightened their requirements since their investors are too. Such a tack has made it harder for even existing companies to obtain the financing they're traditionally used to in good times.
“We continue to see a steady stream of opportunities during the past six months versus the prior 12 months,” Hundley said. “However, mostly what we are seeing now are energy and real estate opportunities, whereas before we saw everything from new technology IP to innovative medical devices and personal aircraft manufacturing ideas.”
Martin adds that he sees a great of interest for technology deals from around the state. “In particular, Dallas currently doesn't have an angel network, and we see a number of deals from there,” he said. “Also, Houston and San Antonio send us software and web deals as they feel Austin is the best place to start in looking for funding.
“There's an increasing number of social web and digital media deals coming through due to the growth of those markets,” Martin added. “I think we're also seeing a broader range of deals now – consumer products, medical devices, healthcare and more that we didn't see much around here five years ago. The Austin economy is diversifying.”
How tight is the money really? Are deals being turned down now that would have been funded in previous years? In the local angel, venture capital and even in private equity fund investor sources, the liquidity exists so money may not be so much “tight" as it is the reduction in willingness to invest.
“In these times investor sentiment requires better diligence, and that makes it ‘feel’ like money is ‘tight,’” Hundley said. “Larger-sized financial services companies who were traditional funding sources had liquidity and speed on their side a year ago. Today, they may still have liquidity, but they're being exceptionally particular and diligent about what they are making investments into.”
Martin claims the Central Texas Angel Network is actually funding more deals now than a few years ago. “That's an angel perspective,” he said. “The VC perspective is that the bottom half of the VC funds in the 1990s are gone, and they're not coming back. It's the VC funding that went away or downshifted into smaller raises.”
Hundley concludes that the key to successful fund raising is really quite the same regardless of the times – it requires a simple, clear and concise business plan and maybe a little more patience and tenacity.
“Take the time to seek advice from a mentor and a consultant,” Hundley said. “Keep finding ways to make your business and your plan better and more effective. And in that plan be sure to define your solution from the end users perspective. Define costs and sales needed in order to provide a return to investors, enough so that makes it worthwhile for them to take on the risks. Know your stuff and test the sensitivity of your pricing models, and how that impacts both customers and investors. Lastly, define your exit strategy if there is not any type of liquidity event.”
INTERVIEW: David Smith, technology futurist
Smith talks about Austin's technology landscape, its emerging industries, and the role that "keeping it weird" plays in continuing the city's cultural hub of creativity.
Austin Company: HBMG
When Saunders Construction completed construction for Prairie View Middle School in late June in Brighton, Colorado, without any loss of materials, HBMG Inc, an Austin company helped the construction firm protect its assets from thieves, saving thousands. By Matt Scherer