AUSTIN, TX - The American Planning Association (APA) Texas Chapter announced the state’s best planning projects, advocates, and communities for 2019. The City of Austin’s Economic Development Department celebrates the win of a Planning Achievement Award for Economic Development Planning for Souly Austin, a placed-based economic development program. Souly Austin is deeply rooted in community organizing and understanding economic market conditions. The program works hands on with business and commercial property owners to cultivate a strong, vibrant, culturally rich and historically rooted business districts serving their immediate neighborhoods and the broader Austin community.
Through building leadership among the business community, Souly Austin provides tools and resources for a merchant association to be created and serve as the anchor organization for the business district. Souly Austin has assisted six business districts to date who have formed merchant’s associations and reached over 1,200 businesses. These merchant associations have implemented enhancement projects, carried out festivals, featured documentaries, and formed partnerships resulting in economic growth and marketing and promotion of their district.
“With a community that is growing as rapidly as Austin, it is essential that we understand the current and forecasted economic market conditions for the appropriate planning approach. Additionally, economic data helps develop a holistic view of challenges and opportunities of a business districts”, shared Nicole Klepadlo, Program Lead and Originator.
The Texas Planning Awards Program recognizes outstanding efforts in planning achievements and planning leadership in Texas. These awards represent the state’s highest planning honors. The Awards Selection Committee evaluated nominees based on originality and innovation, engagement, implementation and effectiveness, quality, and promotion of planning.
“We couldn’t be more honored and excited about this acknowledgement and award. The success of Souly Austin business districts is a true testament to the Austin business community, their strong leadership, passion, and consistent dedication”, notes Veronica Briseño, Director of the Economic Development Department.
This announcement comes at an exciting time as Souly Austin invites Austin businesses to apply to receive resources including merchant association formation, economic analysis, capacity building and more through a competitive application process. Application deadline is October 30, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.
Annually the program can provide direct services to two new business areas in Austin, while continuing to support existing business district merchant associations that have gone through the program. “We’ve seen businesses who have been neighbors for over a decade shake hands for the first time during our process, we are excited to continue to serve our business community and evolve Souly Austin”, stated Klepadlo.
The Souly Austin Team and the Economic Development Department would like to thank Austin City Council for making the Souly Austin program a priority for funding since 2015 and taking action in August 2019 to approve a contract that enables the program to welcome two new districts to the program for the next three years.
Additionally, a big congratulations to partners representing other City of Austin initiatives on their awards including Austin’s Strategic Housing Blueprint Implementation Atlas, Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, and the Brush Square Master Plan.
About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department influences revenue generation through its programs and investments in order to secure economic mobility for our residents and promote a competitive, sustainable, vibrant and equitable economy for all. For more information, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd.
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