October 22, 2013
Leaders gain insight on Austin exchange trip
Every year, the Chamber takes approximately 60 of Cincinnati’s top corporate and community leaders to another city for the annual Leadership Exchange trip to benchmark and learn best practices on a variety of topics.
The 2013 destination was Austin, Texas. Last week, participants traveled to Austin for three days, Oct. 16-18, as the Chamber’s eighth annual Leadership Exchange. From start to finish, the trip was a rich experience of learning, sharing, and experiencing why Austin is such a talent magnet. From its much-vaunted music roots fed by South by Southwest and Austin City Limits, to its quintessential Texas-style barbecue, the group sampled it all.
From a distance, Austin's diversity, rapid growth and overall attractiveness for talent looks like a win-win. But the truth seemed more nuanced as Austin's chief demographer, Ryan Robinson shared the data on Austin in comparison to Cincinnati and presented insights on the challenges and opportunities growth creates.
The creative industries in Austin have grown into such a booming economic cluster that the City of Austin alone has 12 staffers devoted to keeping it strong. Participants heard from a panel of experts on the subject including (pictured to the right) Elizabeth Christian, President, Elizabeth Christian & Associates Public Relations, Inc., Lisa Hickey, Marketing Director, C3 Presents, Ed Bailey, VP Brand Development, Austin City Limits/KLRU, Megan Crigger, Cultural Arts Program Manager, Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office and Hugh Forrest, Director South by Southwest Interactive Festival.
Trip participants also learned what sparked Austin's technology focus and explored the factors that have made innovation a competitive advantage for Central Texas. Led by tech-legend Pike Powers, panelists included Isaac Barchas, Director, The Austin Technology Incubator, IC2 Institute, Terry Lickona, Executive Producer, Austin City Limits and Catherine Morse, General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs, Samsung Austin Semiconductor.
The Chamber also had a mission to find out what makes Austin so sticky for young talent, so we assembled a panel of young professionals (pictured above) who chose Austin as the place to start their careers, including some transplants from Cincinnati. They shared their decision process in choosing Austin as a place to live and work and what they look for when choosing a place to call home.
Other city stops included the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, a tour of Capital Factory, outdoor activities at Austin’s Lady Bird Lake, a tour of Whole Foods Corporate Headquarters Downtown Market, a tour of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and dinner out at some of the best restaurants including Jeffrey’s, La Condesa, Lambert’s, Uchiko and Vespaio.
For better or worse, the group even got to experience one of Austin’s most unique events: the night-flight of thousands of bats (pictured to the right) who spend their days under the South Congress Bridge over Lady Bird Lake. Harrison Eppright, manager of visitor services for the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, spoke about the history of the bats there.
Other trip speakers included:
Mike Rollins, President, Austin Chamber of Commerce
Gary Farmer, Chairman Opportunity Austin and President, Heritage Title
Lee Leffingwell, City of Austin Mayor
Ken Herman, Austin American-Statesman Columnist
Lastly, the Leadership Exchange goers got a primer on Texas BBQ at Ironworks Barbeque and insight into the booming food culture from an authority on the Austin food culture from local food writer at the Austin American-Statesman, Addie Broyles.
2013 Leadership Exchange sponsored by: