Job creation, growth seat Austin atop Forbes’ boomtown list

Brandon Luedtke

Austin topped yet another list Friday, this time taking the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ ranking of top “boomtowns” across the nation most likely to flourish in the next decade.

The report listed the city’s job creation records, which are among the best in the nation, and healthy population growth for the basis of its decision.

Brian Gildea, economic development manager for the city of Austin, said the quality of the available workforce, the cost of doing business and the cost of living are the main draws for businesses in Austin.

“When you look back to before the late ’80s, Austin was really just a town that was based on government and education,” Gildea said. “It’s diversified quite a bit into a technology hub, and I think that that will enable us to continue to grow and create the types of jobs in the sectors that seem to be growing on a national level.”

Austin has recently been featured in several lists for qualities as diverse as its air cleanliness and friendliness toward young entrepreneurs.

“What that tells me is that the quality of life here is such that its beneficial to a variety of different people,” Gildea said.

Gildea said the success of local businesses is directly attributable to previous growths in population.

Jennifer Magnotta, corporate communication and business junior, said growth should help students make strong connections in the business world.

“You sort of hear the cliche: You go to college, you get the degree, then you move far away to work. But I feel like a lot of people are staying just because Austin is opening more opportunities for them,” Magnotta said.

Steven Will, an employee at Saxon Pub, says he has seen the city change a great deal during his seven years working at the pub and expects that change to continue.

“Everything has gotten a little more crowded,” Will said. “There’s more construction, and there’s more competition now for everything.”

Will said the pub is prepared for the change.

“We’re looking to the future because there are new developments coming in all around us. We’re really trying to hold our ground and make it a place where everyone, especially our neighbors, feels welcome.”

Will said the population growth that changes the city will not necessarily change the way they do business.

“We have people that have been coming here for 20 years,” Will said. “Sometimes it gets a little more crowded, and they feel that maybe it’s not the same as it was, but any business has to continue to grow. We still try to hang on to our roots.”