February 12th, 2008 10:14 PM by Heather Brown
High tech, a booming film industry and the University of Texas all helped propel Austin to the top of Forbes' 2008 list of America's Fastest Growing Metros.
The magazine ranked Austin No. 1 among the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. The list sorted cities by their anticipated gross domestic product growth between 2007 and 2012. Austin's GMP, or the value of goods and services produced in the area, is expected to climb 32 percent over the five year period.
Forbes credits the local boom to high-tech employers like Dell Inc. and IBM as well as the University of Texas, which is producing ample engineering talent.
Other cities that ranked high on the list include Atlanta, Seattle, Orlando, Houston and San Jose, calif. The Forbes article points out that all of those cities share several key characteristics with Austin: They are tech hubs in close proximity to universities with growing population bases.
Forbes used GMP forecasts provided by Moody's Economy.com
The regions of the country with the fastest growing metro areas overall are the Southeast and West. Forbes credits the lower costs of living and doing business in those areas for their higher anticipated performance
Seton Unveils New Round Rock Hospital
The Seton Family of Hospitals' newest hospital, Seton Medical Center Williamson, opened last week in Round Rock.
The 365,761 square foot hospital has 181 beds and is located off of University Avenue in Round Rock's quickly growing medical and academic medicine corridor. The hospital joins Scott & White's University Medical Campus hospital, the planned campus of Texas A&M University's medical school and Texas State University's Round Rock campus.
Seton acquired the land in 2004 from the Avery family, and the system estimates the hospital construction cost $175 million. The hospital's 75 acre campus is planned to accommodate future expansions, and the hospital could eventually expand to 350 beds over the next 10 to 15 years, Seton Medical Center Williamson's CEO Mark Hazelwood said.
In addition to services like a full service emergency department, Hazelwood says the Round Rock hospital will try to build on the system's goal of offering complex care by bulking up on specialty care. Among the hospital's programs and services are inpatient medical care, including oncology, digestive, neuroscience, and pulmonology; surgical care, including orthopedics,plastics, gynecology, endoscopy, neurosurgery and general surgery; cardia care; women's services and an oncology center.
Seton is also planning to build a 210 bed hospital in Kyle, about 20 minutes north of Austin.
New Economic Development Plan on Tap for Kyle
The city of Kyle launched its new economic development plan on Feb. 7, kicking it off with a celebration at the Kyle city hall.
The city started working with TIP Strategies Inc. in April to develop the plan, which will focus on managing the city's growth by balancing employment, retail and residential development. Kyle's city council approved the plan in Jun of 2007.
TIP's plan, done in three phases, recommends a series of steps, starting from the ground up. Getting infrastructure, such as roads and sewer lines, in place will be key, TIP says. The city has already implemented transportation and utility expansion plans and is also undertaking a downtown revitalization project. Those project are starting to pay off. RSI Inc., brought about 75 employees to Kyle when it relocated there at the end of 2007. And a 205 acre project planned by Seton Family of Hospitals will bring a hospital and retail center to the city, not to mention a total of 4,600 new jobs by 2010.
"Kyle could be the next Round Rock if they really position themselves in a wise sort of way," Alan Cox, a project manager with TIP Strategies, said in April of the plan. "The southern tier of the Austin metro area still doesn't have a defined employment center. There is demand for a new employment center for the Austin area overall, and it's going to be increasingly difficult to do that. Given Kyle's location and the fact that they can do a commuter rail station, that leverages them in a good way."
Youth Sports Center Breaks Ground in Williamson County
A new sports complex is coming to Cedar Park. The 35,000 square foot Austin Sports Center Cedar Park will include four indoor volleyball courts, three basketball courts, a concession area, pro-shop and meeting rooms. The project, which broke ground in early February is located at 1420 Toro Grande Blvd.
Office Depot is Going Green in Austin
Office Depot will break ground mid February on its newest Austin store, which will double as the retailer's firs "GREEN" location.
The 21,000 squar4e foot store, being designed and built for LEED certification is expected to open later this summer at 2620 Anderson Lane.
Office Depot has developed an environmental plan that calls for the Delray Beach, Fla. company to "increasingly buy green, be green and seel green." To meet those goals , the office products giant has implemented a number of initiatives in the areas of construction, transportation, product development and sales training.
The store will incorporate energy efficient lighting, light sensors in offices and restrooms, water efficient fixtures, floors made of 60 percent recycled materials and low carbon emitting building materials.
Austin Mayor Will Wynn and executives from Office Depot participated in a formal ground breaking ceremony on February 9th.
Office Depot has annual sales of 15.5 Billion Dollars, and employs approximately 52,000 associates around the world. The company has more than 135 stores in Texas and a total of eight in Fabulous Austin!
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