Austin Business Journal editor: Austin business climate is good

From the Hill Country News.

RIVER PLACE — The 2011 Austin business climate is “good,” according to Colin Pope, editor of Austin Business Journal.

Pope was the speaker at the Four Points Chamber of Commerce’s Jan. 20 luncheon. Some 80 or so members and guests attended the event at River Place Country Club.

The consensus from Austin experts and economists is that “overall things are going to be good — not great, not bad, but good,” Pope said. He has the perspective of reporting on local businesses for more than 12 years.

Texas was one of the last states and Austin one of the last cities to enter the recession. Recession is defined by two down quarters of Gross Domestic Product.

The recession forced businesses to run more efficiently. In addition, entrepreneurship in Austin has gone through the roof as a result of the slowdown, Pope said.

Although the economy started ticking up in October 2009, businesses are still not hiring a lot of people yet. Businesses are also “eating up” a lot of inventory, Pope said.

“A big thing holding corporate America back is health care reform,” he said.

“Businesses only take calculated risks and they don’t know how much they will have to pay for health care reform,” he said. “There is hesitation. Everyone is still unclear and nobody really knows how it will work.”

Another part of the economic recovery involes what investors are doing. “(In many cases) investors have money to invest right now but they are just too scared,” Pope said.

With the exception of the health care sector, construction is starting up again unlike the lackluster previous two years. That shows economic recovery as well, he said.

The next Four Points Chamber Monthly Luncheon will be Feb. 17, at River Place Country Club.

Guest speaker for February will be Steve Harper, author of “The Ripple Effect.”

The luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Those wishing to attend chamber luncheons do not have to be members, but reservations for the event are strongly encouraged to ensure there is enough seating for everyone.