Economy Infrastructure Technology

A diverse economy is a sustainable one

Throughout its modern history, San Antonio has been known around the world as Military City, USA, and the Alamo City, home of Texas independence and the Riverwalk. Our economy was built the on the strong pillars of military and tourism.

But civic and business leaders over the last 30 years recognized that a diverse economy is a sustainable economy. San Antonio has risen to the challenge. Today, we can tout a vibrant biomedical community, public and private investment in renewable energy technology, a rising financial services industry, and the emergence of an advanced manufacturing sector at the former Kelly Air Force Base. The City continues to make targeted investments in career readiness and adult education to strengthen our workforce.

Our success in the biosciences was recently highlighted at the 10th Annual World Stem Cell Summit, hosted here in San Antonio last week. Experts in regenerative medicine, next-generation pharmaceuticals, and cancer research networked and discussed the opportunities associated with breakthrough scientific research, some of which is happening right here in the South Texas Medical Center.

As our leaders understood then and what the Summit – the largest gathering of its kind in the world – demonstrates today, is that our city will benefit with an economic development strategy that focuses on our local assets and strengths.

Retaining and expanding local businesses is currently the core of our economic development policy, City Council took an important step in our business retention and expansion efforts in December.

Security Service Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in Texas, and its headquarters is currently located in District 8’s La Cantera. As its business grows, so, too, do its office capacity requirements. SSFCU identified a tract of land near UTSA where it could consolidate its existing San Antonio locations and establish a new headquarters. This area is at the heart of the rapid growth in District 8 and is already experiencing mobility challenges.

To meet the challenge, City Council approved an agreement in which SSFCU will establish a new, expanded headquarters near UTSA, retaining 747 jobs, creating 200 new jobs, and contributing $10.5 million to much-needed public street improvements. To accomplish this, the development will be financed through dedicated tax and rebate revenue over 15 years. The result: infrastructure gets improved immediately, when all area residents will benefit.

The challenges of the 21st century must be faced with coordination among public and private stakeholders. Partnerships in economic development should achieve benefits community-wide. Forward-looking investments and cross-sector cooperation are what San Antonio needs to thrive in the decades to come.

What do you think? Are there any industries that we should be targeting in addition to advanced manufacturing, financial services, renewable energy, and biosciences? How can we make our City regulations more conducive to economic development?