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Updated Sep 10, 2014 - 5:53 pm

How they compare: Austin, Phoenix two of the fastest-growing cities in the US

AUSTIN — When many people think of Austin, Texas, they might think of any one of the city’s various Super Bowl-sized festivals such as Austin City Limits or South by Southwest.

However, the city is also becoming well-known for being one of the country’s fastest-growing economic engines because for the fourth year in a row. Earlier this year, Forbes Magazine named the Texas capital the fastest-growing city of 2014.

According to Forbes, the city’s low unemployment rate (4.89 percent), high median pay of $64,000, and population growth rate of 2.5 percent last year are once again reasons to make it the top city in the U.S.

Austin has not always been the model of economic growth that it is now, and it took a conscious effort to make the city what it is today.

According to Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, the city’s original prosperity hinged on the tech industry.

“For many, many years we were kind of a sleepy college town — capital of the state of Texas,” Leffingwell said. “And then about 30 years ago, we began to build our technology economy and that’s when things really took off.”

The city’s tech boom saw the startup of Dell computers in the Austin suburb of Round Rock in 1984, as well as Austin itself becoming a manufacturing hub of computer parts, said Carlton Schwab, president of the Texas Economic Development Council.

“For a long time, like we are now in the Internet space, we were the downstream recipient of Silicon Valley in wafer manufacturing,” Schwab said.


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