The Culture of Business
Great story out in the San Antonio Express News over the weekend:
San Antonio’s decades-long quest for foreign investments spans the globe.
Just last week, Mayor Julián Castro traveled to London on a trade mission. Another is planned to India in January, and a South Texas delegation is arranging an early 2013 visit to China.
The results of past efforts are plainly seen in San Antonio today. Foremost is the Toyota Motor Corp. assembly plant.
Two decades after the city began courting Japanese investments, the plant opened in 2006. At $1.4 billion, the facility is San Antonio’s largest foreign investment to date. It now employs 2,800. Another 2,800 are employed at the plant’s onsite suppliers, many of which are Japanese companies with local partners.
Some more on our recruitment efforts:
Numerous public and private groups here have roles that seek foreign investment. The rapidly growing Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos, founded and based in San Antonio, is a group of Mexican business owners who specialize in recruiting other Mexican business owners to expand in the United States.
The city’s Economic Development Department operates a network of Mexico trade and investment offices, called Casas San Antonio, in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara. The city also maintains nine sister-city relationships.
The Free Trade Alliance runs its International Business Development Center, begun in the 1990s, that helps foreign companies with market research, legal advice and other services to start U.S. operations.
The center currently has more than 30 clients planning to bring investments totaling more than $5 million — one as high as $800,000. More center clients are from Mexico, but some current clients are from France, Spain and the Dominican Republic.
International Business Development Center staffers often travel to Mexico to speak at “Doing Business in Texas” seminars and to direct interested business owners to San Antonio and the alliance’s services.
Port San Antonio representatives often travel on trade missions and to trade shows to market their real estate, building and logistics services to foreign companies.
Also, Brooks City-Base recently won federal approval for an EB-5 regional center that covers Bexar County. Under the federal EB-5 program, foreign investors can obtain legal residency in the United States by investing at least $1 million, or $500,000 in high-unemployment areas, in developments that create at least 10 jobs.
Brooks City-Base hopes to attract foreign investments, financing that would be cheaper than bank loans, to help pay for streets and building renovations at the former Air Force base. Because its EB-5 program covers the whole county, developers planning shopping centers, apartments, hotels, hospitals and other job-creating projects anywhere in Bexar can participate.