Another Win for Central Texas

Another Win for Central Texas
  • Last Thursday, Elon Musk announced that Tesla was moving its headquarters from California to Austin.
  • While we do not know many details yet, this is undoubtedly good news for Central Texas.
  • But it further highlights that our city council needs to support building more dense housing.

Last Thursday was RECA’s Knockout Night in Austin. If you are not familiar, Knockout Night is one of the biggest events of the year for the Austin real estate industry. If you have never been, I recommend trying to go next year. It’s a fun night and there is a lot of great networking done. And you get to see some real estate industry professionals punch each other in the face.

So why am I talking about Knockout Night? Am I going to go into details about the networking and socializing that happens there? I am not.

I bring it up to explain why it took me until Friday to catch the really big news that happened on Thursday. And that’s what I really want to talk about in this week’s blog.

On Thursday, as I was finishing work and finding my cufflinks and tuxedo shirt, Elon Musk announced that Tesla was moving its headquarters to Austin. This is, obviously, very big news. But what does it mean for Austin? And when will it happen? That’s what I write about below.

Who? What? Where? When?

There is certainly a lot of buzz in Central Texas about Musk’s announcement. But while he dropped this news bomb last Thursday, he really did not go into many details. So many of the questions that we have are not answered yet. For example –

  • When will Tesla move its headquarters to Central Texas? We do not know.

  • Where will Tesla build its headquarters? We do not know. But it is building the large Gigafactory out east along 130. So it is reasonable to wonder if Tesla’s headquarters would be in the same area.

  • How many employees will be at the headquarters? Again, we do not know. But Tesla’s California headquarters currently has about 650 employees.

I know we are all excited about the news, but I reckon we will just have to wait a little longer to get the details.

What Does it Mean for Central Texas?

Even without knowing all the details, though, this is unquestionably great news for Central Texas. Whenever a Fortune 500 company moves its headquarters to the state, it is good news. It brings people and jobs. Not only will Tesla (presumably) bring its employees and/or hire new ones here. But also the vendors and support companies that work with a huge company like Tesla will also employee people and bring more money to the region. And frankly, when a company like Tesla wants to be in Austin, it continues to raise Austin’s profile. Which may help convince other companies to move here – bringing even more jobs and money into the region.

As a result, I do not think this can be seen as anything other than a huge win for Central Texas. But that does not mean there are not also potential pitfalls.

I have written about this so many times before, but Austin has an affordable housing problem. Tesla bringing its headquarters to Austin is almost certainly going to increase the population of the area. We need more housing. That’s the bottom line. And we need it in close in urban areas.

That means we have to have higher density. Unfortunately, developers who try to build dense housing far too often run into obstacles form our city council and neighborhood groups. This has to change. This city is going to continue to grow. For Austin to have any chance of having even somewhat reasonably priced housing, we have to increase density. And our elected officials have to support this plan. And stop being an obstacle in the way.

Tesla’s move to Central Texas is going to continue to grow Austin’s population and status. But we need to meet that growth with continued expansion of dense housing. And for that, we need to have the support of Austin officials.

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