5.7 million viewers tuned in last week to watch The Office's series finale, and saw beloved characters embark on endings and new beginnings; in our neck of the woods, we were delighted to learn that the series' favorite family would be relocating to Austin, where "it's hot, the music is awesome and the tacos are for real," according to Daryl. Jim's Philadelphia startup, Athlead, moved to Austin and is growing fast - a success story we're quite familiar with around here. We were ranked the "The Best City in the US for Small Businesses" by The Business Journals, and earlier this month, President Obama visited us to launch his Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour, in part to hear what our city has done to create stable and well-paying jobs that can support a middle-class family like the Halperts. The keys are education, technology and small business growth. But business success is only one reason we know 150 people are moving to Austin every day. So what can Jim and Pam expect - besides amazing tacos and live music?
Some refer to 'quality of life,' but we would like to go a step further and make it a 'quality of place.' For us, Austin, Texas is nothing if not a unique juxtaposition - we are many things: a Capitol City, a University town, the "Live Music Capital of the World," home of SXSW and Formula 1, pretty weird, and filled with food, film and all things creative. There aren't many cities that are affordable and desirable to young singles, families and retirees alike - but Austin attracts all three populations in droves. For a young family like Jim and Pam, Austin can be more than a move, it may be a forever home.
For Jim, he can rest easy knowing that he's bringing his family to one of the strongest economies in the United States, with an unemployment rate two percentage points below the national average (5.1 percent vs. 7.1 percent nationally). With the second-best real estate investment market in the country, it's a great place to put down roots, and cost of living is low - Forbes ranked us No. 8 on their list of cities where a paycheck stretches the furthest.
For Pam, there is no limit of opportunities to pursue her creative and artistic endeavors, and in case she wants to go out on her own - Austin was ranked a top 10 city for women entrepreneurs. From a lifestyle perspective, we were ranked the No. 4 best city for families by Parenting.com, the top city for health and fitness by the American Fitness Index, and have the 4th lowest crime rate of any large American city. Public schools are a priority, as a city, we just last week approved nearly $500 million in bonds to fund improvements and technology upgrades for the Austin Independent School District.
Our outdoor urban lifestyle includes rivers and lakes in the city center, take the kids exploring Lady Bird Johnson Lake and Wildflower Center, or visit the Congress Avenue Bridge to see the infamous bats - where every summer night, hundreds gather to watch the world's largest urban bat colony - 1.5 million - emerge in flight. Sounds weird - but intriguing - right? That's Austin.
As they say, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could." Jim and Pam, welcome to Austin.
Follow Michael W. Rollins on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AustinChamber