The Company Connector
When I speak of Texas, I’m invariably met by surprise as it’s not one of those destinations that is widely acknowledged as a business destination.
But it should be.
If Texas were a country it would be 10th in World Economies. It is HQ to 100s of businesses, and Austin, the State Capital, attracts an eclectic mix of people and businesses including Amazon, Google and, most recently with a planned $1bn investment, Apple. It’s also got great nightlife with over 250 live music venues and, in one neighbourhood, the highest concentration of bars per capita anywhere in the US – one for every 67 people!
And that population is rising rapidly with around 120 people moving to Austin every day – that is a growing market.
There really is no substitute for meeting people that you want to do business with, and I’ve found that businesspeople in most destinations are happy to meet up, if you’ve made the effort to get there. And Texas hospitality means that they are especially welcoming and open to discussions.
My first call was to the Austin Chamber of Commerce as, having looked after Gatwick Diamond Business for 14 years, I really understand the value of business membership organisations. Walter Zaykowski responded positively and, as well as meeting to discuss the trip, we established the Chamber as a first port of call for any business looking to go to Austin. He will also think of me as and when any of his members look to explore the UK and beyond.
Ahead of the trip I had conversations with some of our regions’ education establishments, as my previous experience of working with other destinations has shown these are well prepared for international working.
As a result I had very productive meetings with the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas Austin and McCombs Business School. With facilities across the campuses, a range of highly regarded courses and links to business, I am sure we will soon see Texas students in the region.
My time in Austin was all too brief but it gave me a real insight into doing business in the City. It’s well served by public transport, simple to navigate and, as explained earlier, packed with places to meet, eat drink.
I have built strong relationships with a great number of key contacts in business, education, state & city government and will be going back to Austin to help business come to the UK. With Brexit approaching (at some point), there is a demand from non-EU destinations to build commercial links to the UK and, with great air links on the doorstep, we are ideally placed to do that.
This is a model that works and there is an opportunity to repeat this exercise with any number of key economic destinations such as San Diego in California, Richmond in Virginia and, further afield, Buenos Aires anyone?
It takes time and effort to find the right people and it takes time and money to go there but it is well worth it, and the returns are manifold.
I’ll see you on the plane!
The Company Connector