Coronavirus pandemic overshadows Tesla, Oracle wins

A year in which Wall Street highflier Tesla broke ground on a $1 billion electric vehicle factory just outside Austin and Silicon Valley software giant Oracle announced plans to relocate its headquarters here might seem a sure bet to be remembered as an overwhelming success from the standpoint of the region’s economy.

If it weren’t for the coronavirus, anyway.

For Austin, 2020 brought big wins on the economic-development front that appear likely to provide lifts to the metro area well into the future. But the gains were far outweighed by the economic destruction triggered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Locally, fallout from the pandemic shuttered businesses — many temporarily but some permanently — and threw more than 100,000 area residents out of work for extended periods of time. It cleared out Austin’s typically vibrant downtown business district for much of the year as companies instituted work-from-home policies, and it led to cancelations of the city’s most celebrated tourist draws, such as the South by Southwest festival and the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix.