Whether or not the Formula One Grand Prix will be a good thing for the city of Austin is a subject that is still a matter of much debate. One area of discussion is whether or not the presence of the F1 track and event will be helpful to local businesses.
The bottom line is that the F1 event will be bringing some of the most powerful business people in the world into Austin and there is no doubt that it will have a significant impact on the local technology scene. Two major Austin businesses, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Freescale Semiconductor Inc. both have deep ties to the event, as does IBM Inc., which also has significant operations within Austin. With the connections that these businesses already have to F1, it is almost guaranteed that bringing it to Austin will have a significant impact on their operations.
Those businesses with existing ties to F1 aren’t the only ones that are likely to benefit from its presence. For example, the developer who was responsible for showing the East Austin land to grand prix organizers in 2008 has stated that Tavo Hellmund, who is the mastermind behind the Austin event, is making plans for a mixed-use development that will include high-performance and clean-tech research and development hubs as well as an office and hospitality development. Furthermore, people near the project have indicated that Hellmund is interested helping move F1 racing toward electric power and that he envisions creating a master development that will be centered around the track and will be home to high-performance fuel cell and battery researchers.
How things will pan out for the future remains to be seen. Clearly, the city needs to focus most of its efforts on getting the track constructed and ready for use by 2012. In the meantime, all indicators seem to imply that the new track will be great for most Austin businesses and may even result in creating numerous additional jobs and opportunities for technological research and development within the capital city.