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Report: Austin sees a 13% increase in new business applications during COVID-19

People dine at Love Supreme Pizza Bar, a newer restaurant in East Austin. (Austonia)

At Sweet Lemon Kitchen, Rachel Cummins has wowed Georgetown residents with fan favorites from her diner like their honey creme latte, chicken salad sandwiches and cinnamon rolls. And now, she’s preparing to open up shop for a cafe called Little Lemon at the downtown library.

She’s one of the many who have decided to open a business during the pandemic. A new report by Self Financial saw that from 2019 to 2020, the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metro region saw a 13% increase in new business applications, showing that COVID-19 hasn’t slowed people down entirely and some are confident about their chances of drawing people in even during a pandemic.

“Just based on what we’re doing here at Sweet Lemon, we felt that it would be successful,” Cummins said. “We have a good customer base and this just gives them a different option.

The report notes that retail showed the largest uptick in new business applications, followed by transportation and warehousing and administrative and support.

(Self Financial)

But as Ryan McElroy, co-owner of Love Supreme and Bird Bird Biscuit said, it’s also important to look at the losses that have happened during the pandemic. With the opening of Love Supreme last spring and a new Bird Bird Biscuit, two other businesses had closed in their place.

“It’s kind of like a one for one exchange more than a good new addition,” McElroy said.

Austin has lost some iconic places since March 2020, like Threadgills and Shady Grove, and recently with Spider House.

And opening a business at this time means having to roll with some punches.

“April, May when we opened Love Supreme, that was fantastically difficult,” McElroy said. “I mean just like amazingly difficult. We barely got open.”

That’s because hiring at this time has become a major challenge.

“Going out there and trying to find an opening team is still, I think, probably really hard,” McElroy said. “I don’t envy anybody who’s out there trying to hire 25 people all at once, that’s a difficult place to be.”

Compared to other regions, Austin was behind. The Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land metro region had a 37% increase in business applications while the nation saw a 24% increase.


With deposition and trial looming, Elon Musk has offered $44B for Twitter, again

Elon Musk has proposed once again to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.

The news that Musk is offering to carry on with the $44 billion buyout was first reported by Bloomberg. Now, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk made the proposal in a letter to the tech giant on Monday.

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading in Twitter stock twice Tuesday, first because of a big price move and the second time for a news event, presumably the announcement of Musk's renewed offer.

While the per share offer price on this latest proposal remains the same as the original offer, it’s unclear if Musk has made other term changes or if Twitter would reject it. According to other reports, a deal could be reached this week.

The stock closed at $52.00/share Tuesday, indicating market uncertainty around the $54.20 offer.

After Musk informed Twitter of plans to terminate the original agreement in July, Twitter sued. A trial has been expected in Delaware Chancery Court on Oct. 17.

With the proposition of a buyout on the table again, it revives the question of whether Musk might move Twitter from San Francisco to Central Texas.

He’s done so with some of his other companies. Tesla’s headquarters in southeast Travis County had its grand opening earlier this year and tunneling business The Boring Company moved to Pflugerville. At least two other Musk companies, SpaceX and Neuralink, have a Central Texas presence without being headquartered here.

Technology journalist Nilay Patel this afternoon voiced concerns that owning Twitter and Tesla together could be problematic for Musk, as his Tesla manufacturing facilities in Germany and China are both in countries that have disputes with Twitter over content moderation and censorship.

Telsa shares fell after the Twitter news became public, before rallying to close up, at $249.44.

Austin rents nearly double in a year and are now in the top 5 nationwide

While searching for a place to live, Austin renters will face monthly rates of nearly $3,000, a recent guide from rental marketplace Dwellsy shows.

The median rent in August this year was $2,930, a more than 86% increase since August 2021. That’s $820 more than the nationwide median asking rent in August and puts Austin just below the Bay Area, Boston and New York for large cities with the most expensive asking rent.

“Within this group, Austin, TX stands out for the highest increases in asking rent, which has nearly doubled since this time last year,” the study notes.

Outside of those large cities, however, others are seeing even higher rent spikes. Metro areas that ranked above Austin in one-year increases include those like Kansas City, MO with a 112% change in rent since last August and Tucson, AZ with a 124% change.

The data reflects large apartment communities, single-family homes and 2-6 unit buildings.