I’m an economic developer and Chamber professional by trade – so that makes me an optimist about the future most of the time. I’m still new in the area but even I have been amazed at how some sectors of the economy appear to be rolling right along in central Texas and in Round Rock. This doesn’t minimize the real economic concerns that other sectors are having, but it does imply to me that we will be insulated from the economic downturn here more so than in other places.
Three months ago, Mark Sprague, Economist for Independence Title indicated that the housing market in the Austin MSA would not experience a slowdown. Rather, the inventory of the market would have an opportunity to catch up to demand. So far, that prediction has held true for Williamson County and much of the region.
Furthermore, the base economy of the area continues to see new projects and investments announced. Last week Elon Musk’s Tesla announced the new Tesla Giga Factory will be located on a 2,100-acre site in Travis County near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Whenever a manufacturer of that size locates in an area, it brings with it an entire eco-system of needs for logistics services, marketing, catering, employee housing, and a litany of parts suppliers willing to locate a facility closer to such a large customer. Will we benefit from that activity in Round Rock? I certainly believe we will. Businesses here already will want to provide goods and services to Tesla, and we are well positioned to be a home for parts suppliers exploring opportunities to come to the area.
Also last week, the Round Rock Chamber completed a project with Investex II LLC, which will be constructing a cold storage and manufacturing facility containing 125,000 square feet and plans to create sixty new jobs over the next five years with an average salary of $60,000. In addition to providing services to the food and logistics industry requiring cold storage, the facility will also house an incubation space to encourage and promote growth and success of local new Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry businesses. In other words, this facility will also provide a launch pad for other entrepreneurs seeking to launch a food business. CEO Michael Angelo Renna is to be applauded for both his investment in our community and the long-term vision it takes to see opportunities in working with new entrepreneurs too.
The point is, in spite of all the very real reasons to be pessimistic about the economic future of the nation when we emerge from the limitations of the coronavirus, central Texas (at least for now) appears to be cruising right along. Soon we can cruise around in a new Tesla truck.