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Last night’s City Council meeting (August 31) provided a big win for local business by unanimously passing the resolution that diverts Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds from Visit Austin to other community assets including local business. The resolution sets aside $500,000 for “Local Business Marketing and Programming.” 
 
While that is a significant amount of money, the real value of this vote was the groundbreaking, official acknowledgment of the value of local business to tourism. Equally important is Austin’s leadership in the nation for innovative policies. To the best of our knowledge, Austin is the first city in the nation to devote HOT funds specifically to local business. Across the nation, no other independent business alliance has been involved in such an achievement.
 
Thank you to our City Council for approving this resolution. A very special thank you to the resolution’s sponsors, Council Members Ellen Troxclair, Ann Kitchen, Leslie Pool and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and their staff. Without their leadership and fight for this, the resolution never would have passed. 
 
While AIBA led the initiative for the local business component, the resolution also included parks, preservation and music. In particular, Bill Bunch, Director of Save Our Springs Alliance was a major force in propelling this to victory. 
 
AIBA members John Kunz, Waterloo Records; John Dorgan, Spiderhouse, I Luve Video and I Luv Vintage; Keith Miller, Authorized Credit Card Systems and Lynn Raridon, Forbidden Fruit came to City Hall to speak in favor of the resolution and in support of AIBA. The discussion began at 4:15. Four hours later, when we were called to speak, only John Kunz was able to remain and speak to the council. Thank you to all to came in support of AIBA.
 
What happens next?
This plan has a long way to go. It has to survive the rigors of upcoming budget discussions. It is not yet clear who and how this money will be administered and distributed. While we hope that AIBA plays a major role in the marketing and programming efforts, it is not designated to AIBA. The plan will be defined in the coming months.
 
But on this day, local business in Austin Texas won.