January was a month full of reflections on 2016, projections for 2017 and analysis for the future at large in Austin. There are enough statistics and predictions to make your head spin, but the overall takeaway is Austin has a bright future. Albeit, many folks agreed the economy is slowing a bit, especially in manufacturing, consider this little tidbit pulled from the Home Builders Association forecast:”Dr. Greg Hallman, senior lecturer of real estate finance at the University of Texas at Austin, pointed out that employment growth in Texas is much higher than in the rest of the U.S. Texas has seen a 25 percent increase in employment since 2006 compared to our nearest competitor, New York, which has seen just over a 10 percent growth over the same period. Austin alone has seen an average increase of approximately 40,000 jobs annually since 2006; contributing to an unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent.”Neal Spelce recapped a few of Ray Perryman’s thoughts in last week’s Austin Letter , who expects Austin to add another 131,400 jobs over the next five years while population growth expands by another 214,400 people. That falls in line with many who have been projecting the Austin MSA to reach 4 million residents by 2040. 4 million! Chew on that number a little bit next time you’re on MOPAC!Last week’s Business Innovation Summit and National Forecast at the Long Center wrapped up the month of analysis. Much was discussed and centered around the Austin Innovation District near MLK and I-35, and heading down to Cesar Chavez. It will be anchored by the Dell Medical School and Dell-Seton Medical Center. UMC Brackenridge will come down later this year and RFP’s are being sent out for future development of the roughly 14acres of prime land. (Did you see the new multi-million dollar amphitheater scheduled for Waterloo Park just South of here?)Other take aways from the Summit:- Austin has been able to recruit some top talent to the area, however not everyone is Sr ___ or Director of ___. We need people who are willing to attend 2 year programs and work their way up the ladder.- While visiting other large metropolitan regions, Austin delegates were encouraged Don’t Think Too Small. We’ve grown a lot in a short period of time, but don’t let that limit our potential.- Think regionally and not just urban core or Travis County. The 5 county region needs to operate together and offer solutions where being downtown Austin does not make sense.Are there some caution signals ahead, yes. Is the sky falling, most say doubtful!