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Austin unaffordability: Big businesses get incentives, but what about the little guys?

Since 2003, Austin's economic development policy has pushed for ways to help the city grow and diversify its business sector. Part of that includes offering incentives to big companies. But there hasn't been a focus on smaller, locally owned businesses – that could be changing.

Terri Gruca

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Published: 5/1/2018 12:19:31 PM
Updated: 1:08 AM CST January 15, 2019

AUSTIN -- If there's a recipe for success, Kerbey Lane Cafe takes the cake.

The 24-hour restaurant has served up homemade, healthy and affordable food since 1980. A model created by a husband and wife from Austin in a small house that is now so successful there are seven -- soon to be eight -- different locations.

“A lot of people really see the benefits of that, being in the city that's bustling and growing and changing," said Amanda Kuda, vice president of communication for Kerbey Lane Cafe. "We reap those benefits as well because we are able to expand."

But it's getting harder for smaller, locally owned businesses.

“Permitting, for example, is very difficult," said Kuda. "Our last two restaurants we specifically opened outside of Austin city limits because of ease of open.”

“The rule of thumb for restaurants is, it'll take you five months to flip an old restaurant into a new restaurant, two to do the work, and three to get through the permitting process,” said Drew Scheberle with the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

From permitting problems to rising property taxes and higher rents to lack of incentives, small businesses are feeling pinched even while business is booming.

Credit: Austin Chamber of Commerce

Click here for a recent taxes and incentives report from the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

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