San Antonio launches regional economic development strategy

Staff Reports

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) has launched a bold regional economic development strategy. The plan, in the works since mid-2019, is a collaborative effort among the region’s largest employers, education and training partners, small businesses, local economic development partners, and the public sector.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, SAEDF convened a group of partners and stakeholders from the private, public, and non-pro?t sectors to help assess the region’s competitiveness and craft an ambitious new approach aimed at giving San Antonians equitable access to economic opportunity. While the plan is new, it stems from an evolution of SAEDF’s operations ongoing since 2017.

“We built a strong team, a compelling strategic plan and targeted approach, bringing together workforce and global development agencies, and a deep commitment to advancing the region in a powerful way. That is the underpinning of SAEDF’s efforts to accelerate the growth of our region. We have much to work within this special place. It’s time to forge ahead and H-E-B is All In,” said Craig Boyan, SAEDF Chairman and President of H-E-B.

An infusion of fresh leadership from the private sector has further energized the team and strengthened the momentum behind the plan, which also has the full support of the public sector. Of the plan, Governor Greg Abbott said, “San Antonio has always been an economy to watch. This strategic and targeted approach to regional growth is another step toward becoming a dynamic force for job creation in Texas. I look forward to more big wins that will mean good-paying, sustainable work for Texans. The State of Texas is All In.

Three pillars support the region’s economic competitiveness: Jobs, People, and Place. SAEDF and its partners collaborated to make the plan operational with the goal of improving quality job opportunities, developing and growing our talented workforce, and building on all of the assets that make San Antonio unique. Each strategic pillar is supported by a group of volunteer leaders committed to advancing SAEDF’s vision.

The Jobs Team, led by Weston Urban’s Randy Smith, is focused on further developing the region’s industry clusters to grow career opportunities for San Antonians. The People Team, led by Kate Rogers, will continue building a skilled, career-ready workforce able to fill local jobs. The City’s voter-approved SA: Ready to Work initiative is an example of this work already in progress. And the Place Team, led by David Robinson, Jr., will amplify San Antonio’s story to gain recognition for our distinct culture, world-class amenities, and diverse options for any lifestyle.

“San Antonio is so many things—The Alamo City, Cyber City, Military City USA®, and Culture City. We’re a City on a Mission, and that mission is to create economic opportunity for every single San Antonian. With EDF’s plan, we have a blueprint for mission fulfillment. The City of San Antonio is All In,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

By 2025, the plan is projected to dramatically impact San Antonio’s growth across all industries, adding 140,000 new jobs, $8B in new wages, 200,000 new degrees and certificates, and $55B in economic impact. As a nonprofit, SAEDF is in a unique position to bring together private and public sector players from across the region to drive this progress.

To fully implement the plan over the next five years, SAEDF is raising a total of $38.5 million. The fundraising efforts target increasing the business’ current community investments to fund implementation. As SAEDF continues attracting new businesses to the region, the corporate base and pool of philanthropic dollars will grow to the benefit of other regional nonprofits.   

“Local business leaders/owners want to see action. I agree — it’s time for all San Antonio businesses to pull together, organize, and increase investment in our region. Invest in this plan. This is our opportunity to change the trajectory of our city and determine how we grow. Kairoi Residential is All In,” said Mike Lynd, SAEDF Implementation Chair and CEO of Kairoi Residential.

Before formally launching the plan, SAEDF has raised more than $1M from the regional business community in support of implementation.

“We have a bold plan and momentum on our side,” said SAEDF president and CEO Jenna Saucedo-Herrera.  “San Antonians deserve to build a great career and live their dream. Together with the regional business community, we will grow those opportunities.”

Additional support from existing SAEDF investors is overwhelming. The community is All In:

“UTSA and SAEDF have a shared vision to make our region an economic hub for national security, biomedicine, manufacturing and technology. Through our collaboration, we are advancing innovation in research and development, producing a highly-skilled workforce for the jobs of the future, and creating economic prosperity for our community. UTSA is All In,” said Dr. Taylor Eighmy, President, The University of Texas at San Antonio.

“Texas A&M University-San Antonio has been at the table of this strategic planning process from the beginning. We are dedicated to growing economic opportunities for our students, their families, and the entire Southside community. In partnership with SAEDF and the workforce development community, we will ensure San Antonio’s people meet their greatest potential. As I say on campus, #BeAudacious! A&M-San Antonio is All In,” said Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, President, Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

“SAEDF and Alamo Colleges District have worked together for years to identify and fill skills gaps that would lead to high wage, high demand jobs for San Antonians. This strategy ensures we’re all moving in the same direction and toward the same goals—great careers, skilled citizens, and a phenomenal place to live. ACD is All In,” said Dr. Mike Flores, Chancellor, Alamo Colleges District.

“Bexar County, SAEDF and SA Works have been aligned for years. We are driven by a shared commitment to growing a talented workforce, ready to fill any job. I wholeheartedly support EDF’s strategic approach to growing our economy and look forward to continuing our work together. Bexar County is All In,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

“We each have a role in growing our regional economy. SAEDF is our quarterback and we – developers, businesses, government, education and training partners – all know exactly what we bring to the field. Team San Antonio is becoming a powerhouse and now we have the playbook to win. Port San Antonio is All In,” said Jim Perschbach, president & CEO, Port San Antonio.

“We are first and foremost Team San Antonio. Brooks’ partnership and investment in SAEDF are invaluable thanks to the incredible work executed by Jenna and her hardworking team. We have witnessed and experienced tremendous progress with the caliber of businesses locating, relocating or expanding in San Antonio. Smart growth calls for alignment and investment with San Antonio’s culture, present and future. Brooks is All In,” said Leo Gomez, President & CEO, Brooks.

“The economic and workforce challenges we faced before the pandemic are even more urgent now. This plan is the opportunity of our lifetime to change the economic trajectory of San Antonio families for generations. Weston Urban is All In,” said Randy Smith, CEO, Weston Urban.

For more information on the plan and to get involved, contact the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. To view SAEDF’s video release, click here.



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