Discover Soul-y Austin

Oct 13, 2015 - 12:48 pm

The Soul-y Austin Business District Incubator, or Soul-y Austin, is the newest name at the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department (EDD). As we kickoff our blog, take a moment to get acquainted with this highly anticipated initiative.

What is Soul-y Austin?

Soul-y Austin exists under the EDD’s emerging Commercial Stabilization Program, which aims to promote, support, and improve Austin’s commercial areas and corridors. Through this initiative, Soul-y Austin will select a number of commercial areas and provide the businesses with the education and resources needed to successfully form merchants associations to further organize and stabilize the commercial districts.


What is a merchants association and who are its members?

A merchants association is a group of business owners that focus on anchoring and stabilizing neighboring businesses around beautification efforts, marketing and promotions, business retention, and economic development activities within a commercial district. Collectively, merchants associations act as a unified voice and assist in leading and influencing positive changes around the area. As merchants associations form, they create a vision for their district and identify short, mid, and long term goals to see their vision through.

The members of each association may vary depending on the goals and vision each commercial district has. Business owners and managers are commonly involved, however, it is not uncommon to see membership opportunities open up to property owners, street vendors, and non-commercial entities such as office complexes, healthcare providers, religious affiliations, businesses operating out of their home, artist and musician entrepreneurs and/or other stakeholders representing or supporting the commercial district.

Why are business districts important?

Vibrant commercial districts offer a range of retail, restaurants, and services that reflect a unique culture and soul of their own and provide amenities to the community. These elements are essential to a socially and economically healthy Austin.

Benefits of Business Districts

  • Greater capacity for small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive
  • Increased job opportunities
  • Business stability
  • Readily-accessible community goods and services
  • Preservation of unique cultures and environments
  • Business retention and support services for existing and legacy businesses
  • Increased sales revenue and taxes
  • Increased pedestrian -and bike- friendly communities


Services Provided to Business Districts

  • Education on merchants associations
  • Coaching toward the formation of merchants associations
  • Commercial district planning and visioning
  • Business loans and Music Venue loans
  • Marketing and promotion tools
  • Monetary district activation awards


Get Soul-y!

Soul-y Austin seeks to empower motivated, Austin-area, brick-and-mortar businesses of all sizes and types within the city’s commercial areas or corridors who are interested in learning more about merchants associations and the benefits of being an organized commercial district.


Follow our blog and watch for future posts as we introduce our team and the areas underway.  If you have any questions or comments about this exciting opportunity, please contact Nicole Klepadlo, Program Manager at or 512-974-7739.