BPL19-Round-Rock-Texas-2
Courtesy of Round Rock

No. 2

Round Rock, Texas

Just 20 miles north of Austin lies a thriving community with a lot going for it.

In Round Rock, Texas, the median household income is $82,229, over 60% of people own their homes, and jobs are abundant. Over the past decade, the county has seen a 41% increase in job growth — and is still expanding. The area’s unemployment rate is 3.1%, and Round Rock is a hub for both large and small companies.

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“We have worked hard to create an environment that attracts a diverse landscape of industries,” Nichole Vance, director of business attraction at Round Rock Chamber of Commerce, told MONEY.

Round Rock is home to Dell Technologies, which is the area's largest employer. Emerson, a company that helps businesses automate and optimize their production processes, moved into the area in 2014, opening its third global innovation center. The city is also supportive of local businesses such as the brewery Bluebonnet Beer Company and honey farm Round Rock Honey.

“The business community bends over backwards to help you and to make sure that you’re successful,” says Konrad Bouffard who, along with his wife, founded Round Rock Honey. As head beekeeper, Bouffard employs about 23 people at his honey farm.

Since 2019, Round Rock has secured over $35 million in capital investment for economic development projects, which has maintained or created approximately 800 jobs in the area, according to Vance. The city also works with the local school district and nearby universities and community colleges to create programs that give students the skill sets local employers are looking for.

It’s no wonder that Round Rock taps its schools for incoming talent. The Round Rock Independent School District, the city’s public school system, has a 96.1% graduation rate as of 2017.

Dawn Watson, 56, just finished a two-year term as council president of the Round Rock ISD Council of PTAs. The British expat has lived in Round Rock for 23 years and both of her daughters went through the city’s school system. “I can’t say enough good things about our district,” she says, noting that when her daughter Shelby was struggling in school, one teacher went above and beyond.

Her second-grade teacher noticed that Shelby’s lack of focus in class might be due to ADD or ADHD. Even after doctors confirmed a diagnosis, Shelby’s teacher continued to offer Watson and her family advice, going far beyond what was expected of her. Watson says that level of support stayed with them for years after her daughter left the classroom. “It’s crazy to say, but it has been life-changing for us," she says.

Shelby went on to graduate from the University of North Texas and is now a digital marketing specialist. She made approximately $56,000 in her first year out of college, according to Watson. While Watson has moved over 28 times in her life, she says that raising her daughters in Round Rock gave them stability, a good education, and a community-driven environment. And most importantly, “I still feel so incredibly safe,” she says.

In addition to stellar schools and a robust economy, Round Rock is also filled with fun things to do in your spare time. Enjoy a minor league baseball game at Dell Diamond stadium, or a concert at Round Rock Amphitheater. For the outdoorsy types, the city’s 640-acre Old Settlers Park is used by its residents for a variety of activities including picnics, fishing, sports games, and special events. — Olivia Raimonde

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