Tech accounts for 20% of the Austin economy, with 100,000 employees, Austin Technology Council vice chair Lynn Atchison says. And it’s “absolutely still growing,” projected to add 3,000 jobs a year for the next decade. Those aren’t all software engineers; Lynn says as tech companies grow, they add lots of types of talent. Tech was a big focus at Bisnow’s Austin state of the market event, where Lynn (pictured here with Southwest Strategies Group's Mike Wiley) spoke.
Tech isn’t all a Downtown story. Brandywine Realty Trust EVP Bill Redd (here with Solomon Cordwell Buenz’s Clara Wineberg) says it’s a myth that all Millennials live or want to live Downtown; only about 13% of Austin’s young professionals do. Connectivity is really what they’re after, which can be found in a walkable, amenity-laden suburban project. (That’s why the city is encouraging growth via “centers.”) Lynn, a former HomeAway exec, can attest to that—HomeAway’s 1,000 employees were spread out across the metro. Its solution was a distributed workforce with its 200k SF of office spread across Downtown, South Congress and the Domain, with a shuttle (with WiFi!) running among them multiple times a day. Besides hitting more of its employees, it’s hard to find 200k SF contiguous anyway.
Mixed-use development is also helping; our moderator Carey (snapped with CohnReznick partner Mike Celkis) says these projects increase congestion around them, but ease regional transportation issues. Terry is already seeing that impact in Downtown—most households take 10 car trips a day, but Downtown is around three. John-Michael says that’s because only 20% of car travel is commuting, the rest is picking up the kids, grabbing groceries, going to see a movie, etc. If much of that is happening in a walkable environment, it majorly reduces auto load overall.