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Kendra Scott was told you had to be on the coast to succeed in the fashion industry. It might have looked that way, while she tried to sell her jewelry as a single mom and did her first shows 18 years ago, but they were wrong.
"I feel so fortunate that I started my business in Austin, Texas," Scott said. "I started going door to door with my jewelry in a tea box and I said if I had done that in San Francisco or New York, I would have probably been kicked out, they may have called security or the police on me."
Fellow Sharks and entrepreneurs Kendra Scott and Mark Cuban spoke from their respective Texas homes; Scott in Austin and Cuban in Dallas, and gushed over the state's friendly residents, bustling industry and hard workers.
Now running one of the most successful brands in the world and being named as one of the richest self-made women in the world, Scott said she thinks one of the reasons Austin has seen such massive growth over the past few years is due to the warmth Austinites give off.
"In Texas, people are warm, they're loving, they like to support local business and I think that was what you know really shines through," Scott said. "You look at Austin now and you see what's happening with this huge emergence, coming from both coasts, coming into Texas, because it is a friendly state to do business in."
Cuban got his start after moving to Dallas in 1982, right out of college. Though he's worth more than $4 billion now, Cuban spent many nights crashing on friends' couches while he was working on his first company, MicroSolutions.
Now that he's made it, Cuban is working on spreading the love through companies that solve problems and by writing a check when it's needed. When the winter storm hit, Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks, of which Cuban is a majority owner, donated $1.25 million to the Dallas Emergency Fund.
"I try to look at writing to check is to deal with an emergency, what's there right now that needs to be solved, where people are challenged," Cuban said. "I'll donate to a variety of organizations that I think can have long term solutions and then there's a time when you use commerce when you think that you can come up with a better solution."
Scott said she feels like business and philanthropy should go hand-in-hand but that it is a mistake to think writing a check will solve the world's problems—you have to also donate your time.
Between donating to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through her Kendra Cares program, Scott said she's seen first hand that true philanthropy means putting down roots in the community.
"A lot of times the very beginning I was told that you couldn't give as much that I was giving away, whether that was product or doing this 20% give back or more, and that was simply just wrong because the connection that we made within our community," Scott said. "The relationship with our customers is so much deeper, so much more real because we were going through things with them."
As they closed out, Scott and Cuban agreed that what makes Austin special is knowing it is competing against the rest of the world.
"You put that sweat equity into your business then that's when the real equity can come," Scott said. "I had to be very gritty and get in there, just make it work with tape and glue and whatever I had around me and a very limited resources, but if you build it, they will come and you have to be able to do something where you're filling a void."
Their advice? High tail it to Texas and get your idea on the ground, even if it means starting small.
"I would say if you can get to Dallas, you can get to Austin, you can get somewhere in Texas or if you're already here, just go for it," Cuban said. "Build it just one step at a time and then you'll see you have so many resources available to you that you can grow it from there."
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After Austin voters passed Proposition B, reinstating a ban on public camping, City Council directed staff to look into possible sanctioned campsites where homeless residents could live legally. Now two members are asking to shelve discussion on the controversial topic.
Staff presented dozens of possible sanctioned campsites across each fo the 10 council districts in late May, following the election. But members mostly pushed back on the proposed locations, citing cost, wildfire risk and lack of transparency as concerns.
With updated criteria, staff recommended two sites—one in District 1 and the other in District 8—for further review last week. After being briefed on the options during Tuesday's work session, Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, who represents District 1, and Council Member Paige Ellis, who represents District 8, issued a joint statement proposing "a pause" on further discussion of temporary sanctioned encampments.
"We are not convinced that these sites would be a cost-effective solution, but rather a band-aid tactic when we need to be supporting the long-term strategy to get folks off the street permanent," they said. "It is our responsibility to look at the situation holistically and objectively, and to spend out city's limited resources on solutions we know can work."
Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey noted that the two locations were imperfect and would require a lot of time and money to outfit as sanctioned campsites during the briefing.
City staff and homeless experts have previously raised concerns about sanctioned encampments, saying they are expensive to maintain, challenging to manage and hard to close, even when intended to to be temporary.
In 2019, staff declined to make recommendations for such sites despite being directed by council to do so, citing 2018 guidance from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. "Neither authorized encampments nor parking areas provide housing for people experiencing homelessness," staff wrote in a memo. "Rather, each option detracts from the staff resources assigned to addressing this moral imperative."
But with Prop B being enforced and too few shelter beds and affordable units for the estimate unsheltered homeless population in Austin, the city is facing the same predicament that prompted District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo to pursue possible sanctioned campsites in the first place: "When individuals in encampments ask where they should go, we need to have places to suggest," she said at a May 6 council meeting.
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Don't lose your mask just yet—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it is now recommending masks in areas that are surging as cases rise nationwide and the Delta variant looms.
The CDC announced Tuesday that even fully vaccinated individuals should mask up indoors if their community is experiencing substantial transmission—defined as areas with more than 50 cases per 100,000 people. Travis County is sitting at an average of 94.59 cases per 100,000 over the past seven days, falling into the highest risk category, according to the CDC.
#DeltaVariant surging in U.S. New data show Delta much more contagious than previous versions of #COVID19. Unvaccinated people: get vaccinated & mask until you do. Everyone in areas of substantial/high transmission should wear a mask, even if vaccinated. https://t.co/tt49zOEC8N
— CDC (@CDCgov) July 27, 2021
After two COVID-19 recommendation stage jumps in the last two weeks, from Stage 2 to Stage 4, Austin-area cases are the highest they have been since February. The seven-day average for cases is on an upward trend, reaching 226 on Tuesday.
The CDC is also recommending that all students K-12 wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. A May executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott prohibits schools from requiring masks, regardless of vaccination status. Austin ISD is "strongly" encouraging students to wear masks.
Although vaccinated individuals are still protected against the most severe symptoms of the variant, infections are spreading rapidly and now make up 83% of confirmed cases in the U.S. At least a dozen cases of the delta variant have been confirmed in the Austin area, though there are likely more since testing for it is limited.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that hospital admissions are "almost exclusively" coming from people who are unvaccinated but those who are vaccinated can still catch and spread the virus.
"Unlike the alpha variant that we had back in May, where we didn't believe that if you were vaccinated you could transmit further, this is different now with the Delta variant," Walensky said. "That leads us to believe that the breakthrough infections, rare that they are, have the potential to pool and transmit at the same with the same capacity as an unvaccinated person."
Research suggests those who become infected carry 1,000 times more of the virus than other variants and could stay contagious for longer.The announcement comes on the heels of the Biden administration ramping up cautionary measures in the face of the Delta variant. Just last week, the CDC said it had no plans to change its May guidance of vaccinated not having to wear masks unless there was a significant change in the data. Officials met on Sunday night to review new evidence, according to reports.
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The Moody Center, a $338 million, 530,000-square-foot multipurpose arena at the University of Texas at Austin, celebrated its topping out on Tuesday.
With the final beam placed, the arena's steel-frame structural phase—which involved more than 5.3 million pounds of steel—is complete.
"This past year has been full of unprecedented events, not to mention weather challenges, and yet the women and men working on this project continue to deliver," Moody Center General Manager and Senior Vice President Jeff Nickler said in a press release.
To celebrate the topping out Oak View Group, the development and investment firm behind the Moody Center will affix a tree to the final beam in keeping with the time-honored tradition.
The practice dates back to ancient Scandinavian religious rites, which involved placing a tree atop new buildings to appease tree-dwelling spirits displaced during the construction process, according to the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Ironworkers in Washington D.C.
After the steel-frame structure phase, the development will move on to enclosing and finishing the interior of the Moody Center.
The arena is set to open next April and already has some major acts scheduled for its inaugural year, including The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, John Mayer and The Killers. It will replace the 43-year-old Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center and serve as the home of UT's men's and women's basketball games, among other sports and community events.
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