Plus, Austin chefs on "Top Chef" season 21.
 
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72º | Mostly cloudy | 20% chance of rain | Sunrise 7:17 a.m. | Sunset 6:13 p.m.

 
🏆 Straight to the top
The Austin skyline at dusk.
Say it with us — we’re No. 1. | Photo by ATXtoday
For the first time since 2013, the Austin-Round Rock metro area ranked as the No. 1 Best Performing City in Milken Institute’s 2024 report, an annual measure of a city’s sustainable and equitable growth.

Why did Austin rank so highly?

The Capital City’s rise to the top was largely boosted by economic growth and investments in the local tech sector, with high-tech output increasing by 62.4% between 2017 and 2022.

Here are some other rankings that highlight the region’s recent economic success:
  • No. 1 in five-year job and wage growth
  • No. 4 among large cities for high-tech diversification
  • No. 8 in five-year high-tech GDP growth
Here’s one more staggering stat for you: between 2017 and 2022, wages increased by 73.1% in the Austin metro. That’s nearly seven percentage points higher than the wage growth in the San Francisco metro.

While rapid wage growth can often lead to high levels of income inequality, the Austin metro’s Gini index — an income inequality measure — remains middle of the pack among other large cities at No. 85, while San Francisco ranks at No. 192.

A graphic showing that job growth grew by 22.8% between 2017 and 2022, while wage growth grew by 73.1 + high-tech GDP growth grew by 62.4% during that same time frame.

Austin’s economic growth has been strong over the last few years.

|

Graphic by ATXtoday

Yeah, what about affordability?

Among other large cities, Austin still ranks toward the bottom when it comes to affordable housing, at No. 120.

Believe it or not, that’s an improvement from recent years. According to Milken Institute research, the percentage of households living in housing considered “affordable” rose in 2022, currently standing at 68.1%.

However, affordability remains a concern for Austinites, with more than 90% considering it to be a top challenge facing the city.

How do other Texas cities rank?

Dallas-Plano-Irving was the only other Texas metro to make the top 10, at No. 8. Here are some notable stats from that metro area:
  • No. 9 for job growth between 2017-2022
  • 46.2% increase in wage growth between 2017-2022
  • No. 153 for affordable housing costs
  • No. 136 for Gini index
 
Asked
 
Pop quiz: How many established tech industries are there in the Austin metro area?

A. 6
B. 14
C. 16
D. 22
 
 
Events
 
Thursday, Feb. 8
  • In Conversation: Manik Raj Nakra & Curator Alex Klein | Thursday, Feb. 8 | 6:30 p.m. | The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St., Austin | Free with admission | Listen to the artist and curator at this talk, which will also offer drinks for purchase from Spread & Co.
  • ASC Songwriters Showcase February | Thursday, Feb. 8 | 7-9:30 p.m. | Barrel O’ Fun, 1911 Aldrich St., Ste. #120B, Austin | $8 | This monthly listening event features six local songwriters.
Friday, Feb. 9
  • Main Course: Stand Up Comedy | Friday, Feb. 9 | 7:30 p.m. | Vulcan Gas Company, 418 E. 6th St., Austin | $25-$30 | Laugh along to a secret lineup of Netflix, HBO, Comedy Central, and Showtime-featured comedians.
  • Professional Bull Riders | Friday, Feb. 9 + Saturday, Feb. 10 | Times vary | H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, 2100 Ave. of the Stars, Cedar Park | $24-$320 | The Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour will return to Cedar Park for the fourth year.
Saturday, Feb. 10
  • King Cake Cooking Class | Saturday, Feb. 10 | 1-5 p.m. | Barton Springs Mill, 16604 Fitzhugh Rd., Unit B, Dripping Springs | $150 | Learn how to bake Louisiana-style King Cake and learn about the treat’s origins.
  • The Stupid Pet Tricks Tour | Saturday, Feb. 10 | 2-6 p.m. | Meanwhile Brewing Co., 3901 Promontory Point Dr., Austin | Free | Show off your pets’ special skills on the pink carpet — one pet will be picked to be included in an episode of Sarah Silverman’s series by the same names.
Plan Ahead
  • Galentine’s Day | Tuesday, Feb. 13 | 6-9 p.m. | Gibson Street Bar, 1109 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin | Free | Hang out with the gals at this event featuring tarot card readings, permanent jewelry, and a build-your-own flower bouquet station.
Click here to have your event featured.
 
 
News Notes
 
Number
  • $1.18 billion. That’s how much people spent on alcohol in Austin last year, the second year in a row to exceed $1 billion in sales. Leading the list of top sellers are hotel supplier White Lodging Services, the Moody Center, and the ACL Music Festival. (Austin Business Journal)
Sports
  • Quinn Ewers — not high-profile recruit Arch Manning — will be Texas’ football’s starting quarterback again next season, coach Steve Sarkisian announced. Ewers was eligible for the 2024 NFL draft, but decided to stay with the Longhorns for his senior year. (Austin American-Statesman)
Coming Soon
  • Farmers market favorite David Doughie’s Bagelry will open a food truck at Lustre Pearl South later this month. The food truck will serve signature New York-style sourdough bagels in a range of flavors, with an array of topping options. (Eater Austin)
Announced
  • A Mexican food restaurant called Arriba Abajo will open in the former Wax Myrtle’s space inside the Thompson Austin hotel on Friday, March 1. The rooftop restaurant will offer cocktails and cuisine inspired by Oaxaca, Yucután, and Tulum. (Eater Austin)
Watch
  • See local chefs Amanda Turner of Olamaie and Kévin D’Andrea of FoliePops compete in “Top Chef” season 21. And don’t miss Kristen Kish, a judge on the show and head chef at Arlo Grey inside the Line Hotel.
Opening
  • HomeSense, a furniture and home goods store, is expected to open its first store in Texas in Sunset Valley at 5400 Brodie Lane sometime this year. The store will fill the former Buy Buy Baby space, which spans 29,000 sqft. (Austin Business Journal)
Cause
  • Help Austin Parks Foundation keep our city’s green spaces clean as part of the upcoming It’s My Park Day, taking place Saturday, March 2. Registration is now open to volunteer for supply pick-up, trash collection, mulching, and beautification projects.
Travel
 
 
Transit
 
Dirty Martin’s Place is saved
A photo of four men standing in front of a turquoise vintage car in front of Dirty Martin's
The historic Austin restaurant has been a local staple since 1926. | Photo via @dirtymartins
A host of local businesses — including Dirty Martin’s Place at 2808 Guadalupe St. — will be spared from displacement due to Project Connect’s upcoming light rail, according to reports.

The light rail will continue construction near Guadalupe Street without causing the nearly 100-year-old business to move or close. Plans to build the light rail through the business were introduced mid-2023.

Austin Transit Partnership said the change was made after reevaluating traffic flow near 27th and 29th streets. The following businesses will remain unmoved:
  • The Ballroom @ Spider House, 2906 Fruth St.
  • Arlo’s Curbside, 2906 Fruth St.
  • Mighty Mo’s, 2716 ½ Guadalupe St.
  • Abu Omar Halal, 2718 Guadalupe St.
  • Smoke Paradise Vape and Dispensary, 2718 Guadalupe St.
  • Asian Express, 2718 Guadalupe St.
  • Whataburger, 2800 Guadalupe St.
New plans state that the rail will likely still move along the Drag. Additionally, conflicts with multi-family developments along Riverside Drive west of I-35 will be reduced.

Read more about the first phase of Project Connect.
 
The Buy
 
The Giving Heart pillow — a cream, knitted, heart-shaped pillow that’s weighted to replicate the feeling of a real hug. It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for loved ones who deserve some extra coziness and care.
 
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The Wrap
 
London Gibson Today’s edition by:
London
From the editor
My friends and I were Dirty Martin’s regulars when I was a UT student. We were drawn in by the history, but came back for the delicious food and outdoor seating — it also helped that it was just a short walk away from the communications building.

To this day, I’ll swear up and down that Dirty’s serves the best fries on the Drag.
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