The City of Austin Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office received three Excellence in Economic Development Awards for communities with populations over 500,000 from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The awards are for the Small Business Development Program (SBDP) in the category of Entrepreneurship, Independent Business Investment Zone (IBIZ) District in the category of Neighborhood Development Initiatives, and the 2nd Street District in the category of Public-Private Partnerships.
The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, September 20 during the IEDC Annual Conference, September 18-21 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"We recognize the City of Austin Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office for providing successful strategies to promote new standards in economic development in this period of global recovery,” said Dennis Coleman, IEDC chair. “Our awards honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in communities. They demonstrate that they are at the forefront of the economic development profession and are using innovative and effective practices that can be replicated in other communities."
In 2010 and 2011, Austin was recognized by BizJournal’s Portfolio.com study as the most conducive city in the nation for the creation and development of small businesses. The designation was based on three statistical categories that are critical to entrepreneurship: growing population, strong employment, and strong small business growth. Austin has over 38,000 small businesses and 91% of Austin employers have fewer than 100 employees. The City of Austin’s Small Business Development Program exists to support this strong small business economic community. SBDP helps foster the creation, growth and survival of small businesses, and has served over 14,000 clients since its inception in 2000.
The City of Austin and the Small Business Program also recognize and promote the value of locally-owned businesses by funding the establishment and marketing of Independent Business Investment Zone (IBIZ) Districts. Austin’s IBIZ District, an association of merchants within a geographic area, promotes the district as a destination for shopping and entertainment through a cooperative marketing campaign. There are currently seven IBIZ Districts in Austin encompassing over 300 locally-owned businesses, with an eighth district forming.
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The City of Austin’s redevelopment efforts to transform six city blocks in the southwest quadrant of its central business district began in 1999. The City owned five of the six blocks fronting West 2nd Street, and wished to further several goals including: building a new City Hall; catalyzing redevelopment of a distressed downtown area; returning underutilized city-owned land to the tax base; preserving historic assets; demonstrating responsible/sustainable land development practices; leveraging public assets to secure private investment; re-establishing downtown as a retail destination; adding downtown residential stock; luring major employers; creating a pedestrian-friendly public realm; creating a denser city center; stimulating additional public and private investment downtown; and, overall, strengthening downtown vitality. All six blocks have been redeveloped in partnership with six private entities. The City's goals have all been realized. In 2010, the six block core of the 2nd Street District spun off $4.55 million in property taxes, and this was before the $300 million W Hotel and Residences project opened in late 2010. The district also produced $2.29 million of sales taxes in 2010. The success of the district, in spite of the recent economic downturn, has regenerated investment in residential and retail projects throughout downtown Austin.
“We are pleased to be recognized at a global level for these efforts, said Kevin Johns, Director of the Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office at the City of Austin. “This award is especially meaningful in a climate prevalent poverty and unemployment. Our award winning programs will continue to create balanced economic vitality approaches that create jobs and improve the city’s economic sustainability.”
The Excellence in Economic Awards Program annually recognizes the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. The program honors organizations and individuals in 28 categories for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities.
About the City of Austin Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office
The Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office was created to lead the economic development, small business development, cultural arts and emerging technology programs for the City of Austin. Together, the mission of these programs is to create a cultural and economic environment that enhances the vitality of the community in a manner that preserves Austin’s character and environment.
About the Small Business Development Program
Launched in 2000, the Small Business Development Program offers resources and services that gird entrepreneurs with solid start-up skills and existing business owners with the information and tools necessary to maintain or expand their businesses.
The program is a division of the City’s Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office and is committed to providing opportunities and resources to small businesses to help them grow and prosper in a competitive business environment. For more information about SBDP’s resources and services, call (512) 974-7800 or visit www.austinsmallbiz.org.
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About the International Economic Development Council
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is the premier membership organization dedicated to helping economic development professionals create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities and improve the quality of life in their regions. Serving more than 4,500 members, IEDC represents the largest network of economic development professionals in the world.
Communications and Public Information Office
301 W. 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701