The South by Southwest music festival bills itself as “the premier destination for discovery.” It’s also the destination for truckloads of cash, as music and art fans flock to Austin, Texas, each March. Last year’s event brought nearly $100 million to the city, according to one analyst.
The more than 200, 000 “creative class” types — musicians, media gurus, filmmakers — who come to South by Southwest (often known merely as SXSW) spend money not only at the official event, but also in Austin’s rich underground economy.
The annual festival has become a cash cow for the city, says Ben Loftsgaarden, an economic analyst with Greyhill Advisors who studied the economic impact of last year’s event.
Wildman, who owns Malibu Yogurt at 825 E. University Blvd, uses his Main Street Pedicabs manufactured Billboard Bike to get to and from his store.
“Because it is my bike and because I ride it, I can park it just like any other car, ” Wildman said.
By David Brenda
Bob Frost, a 57-year-old retired U.S. Forest Service worker, opened Sundial Pedicabs last month.
Starting with one cab and operating intermittently when weather permits, Frost will take visitors around the Sundial Bridge, along the Sacramento River Trail and even through the McConnell Arboretum at Turtle Bay Exploration Park.
“Hey, Rickshaw Willie, ” someone calls out as Tim Wilhelm drives his Pedicab down Main Street in Akron, Ohio. It’s a common occurrence these days, as Wilhelm, aka “Rickshaw Willie, ” has become somewhat of a local celebrity.
“Everybody has to have their picture taken with Rickshaw Willie, ” Wilhelm says. “People are hugging me all the time, and kids will run out to the edge of the curb to high-five me as I drive down the road. Even some local business owners came up to me while I was eating dinner and told my wife that I had become a downtown Akron icon.”
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