South by Southwest is the premier conference, trade show, and festival for creative professionals across disciplines in the country. Over the last thirty years, the festival has grown to international standing as one that defines creative, innovative, entrepreneurial cool. Austin has hosted the festival, and Texas has enjoyed the economic impact that has grown to $325.3 million in 2016.
SXSW, along with UT Texas, has helped Austin define itself as a center of creativity, commerce, and innovation. The festival continues to be the most profitable event for the city of Austin’s Hospitality industry, with expansion in the hotel industry and longer hotel stays for the festival in 2016 than in previous years. Innovative companies, startups, and business incubators are moving to Austin to take advantage of the unique cross-pollination. The festival and conference allows creatives in different industries and professions an opportunity to work across boundaries.
Among economic development specialists, SXSW is considered the top opportunity for promotion, talent procurement, and lead generation. For companies looking to work with innovative startups and entrepreneurs, SXSW is considered ground zero for workforce and talent acquisition. Governor Abbott hosted tech executives who were in town for the conference in the Governor’s Mansion in 2015 to highlight the environment for business in Texas.
Texas Monthly profiled some of the small business owners who feel an economic impact from SXSW. SXSW Eco, a new conference and festival also based in Austin, creates “a space for business leaders, investors, innovators and designers to drive economic, environmental, and social change.”
The Legislature is addressing a number of resolutions shortly that will impact how Texas is viewed as welcoming to the creative professionals who have been driving the success of SXSW. According to attorney Jake Posey managing shareholder of The Posey Law Firm, PC, the innovative startup entrepreneurs who have made Austin a hub of the creative economy are finding that economic power allows them to have an impact on areas of social and economic justice.