This post is part of a series on Imagine Austin's priority programs, in light of Austin's current CodeNEXT rewrite process. View the entire series here.
Everyone hears about how many people are moving here each day as well the booming technology economy, but what about the residents already here who might not have those particular skills? The Workforce and Education priority is all about ensuring that our communities thrive by building up the skills of workforce, investing in small businesses, and investing in our schools.
In the four years since the adoption of Imagine Austin, a lot has changed. More businesses have moved to Austin, more entrepreneurs have started their own businesses, and the city has sought to encourage and help these businesses thrive. A few highlights in this area:
Opening of Austin Community College Highland Campus
This is an incredible milestone for our city. ACC Highland opened in August 2014 amid great fanfare. They took a defunct mall and turned it into a beautiful space for learning and business incubation. It is the home to a “math accelerator” which provides 604 computer workstations for students to drop in and work on homework, or to take courses at their own pace. It is staffed by tutors who are available to help students who are stuck on problems. It is also home to a partnership with major employer Rackspace to open new offices as well as provide internships to ACC students.
Locally Austin App
An App was created to encourage residents and visitors alike to explore local small businesses. It provides suggestions based on location and keyword search. Within the App are also links to resources to help small businesses learn about marketing, mentoring, business plans, and financial details of starting a business. Small businesses can list their business free of charge and connect to resources easily.
Throughout the city, hundreds of people have attended programs to learn how to use computers, gain job skills, and learn how to start a business.
The economic development office has undertaken significant reports on the music industry as well as the fashion industry to better understand how they impact the economy as well as the challenges they face. You can read more here and here.
We applaud the efforts of the city to increase opportunities for all Austinites, in particular those without the skills to be most successful in the 21st century economy. We also agree that the benefits to Austin are HUGE from small businesses. If you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays in Austin. If you spend the same amount at non-local business, only $43 stays in Austin. Keep up the good work Austin, and shop local!