The Culture of Business
This is the first in an occasional series on San Antonio’s international business environment.
Traditionally, San Antonio’s economic development strategies have focused primarily on the U.S. market and winning expansions by U.S. firms. As the world’s largest and most innovative economy, that made sense.
However, the world economy and the way companies operate continue to evolve at a breathtaking pace. Capital, ideas, products, and workers are more mobile than they’ve been in human history. With that, San Antonio is seeing a downturn in greenfield projects, increased competition from cities around the world, and firms wanting more specialized workforce, logistics and infrastructure.
Going forward, economic growth everywhere will primarily occur by companies buying and selling goods and services internationally. Communities will grow by having very specialized ecosystems and a specialized workforce that create synergies for partners and competitors alike. San Antonio has to be ready to compete with cities from Tucson to Tokyo.
In order to do that, San Antonio applied to become a member of The Brookings Institution’s Global Cities Initiative (GCI) in 2012. The GCI is Brookings’ five-year, $15 million partnership with JP Morgan Chase aimed at helping cities around the U.S. retool their economies for the age of cloud computing and global supply chains.
This is a very important partnership for San Antonio. The world’s economy is rapidly evolving. By 2030, 66 percent of the global middle class will reside in Asia. This means a much higher proportion of customers and opportunities will be outside North America. We have to make sure San Antonio is ready to take advantage of those new opportunities.
As part of the GCI, the community has prepared a report on local exports and another on foreign direct investment (FDI) in San Antonio. Those reports culminated with the San Antonio Trade and Investment Strategy released on December 12, 2014 at an event hosted by Texas A&M-San Antonio. The purpose of the Strategy is to define how San Antonio will create jobs for its citizens by better engaging with opportunities around the world.
Exports and FDI are both extremely important for San Antonio’s future. Through research, we found that San Antonio has some truly unique features in its economy. We have highly specialized clusters in aerospace maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO); bioscience; cybersecurity; managed hosting; petroleum; solar energy; and transportation equipment. There are many things San Antonio is good at, but these are the seven areas where it is exceptional. Going forward we will work hard to promote these strengths in twelve key international markets.
Connecting our local firms with global peers and supply chains will help everyone in our city by helping to create new jobs, exposing our companies to global best practices, and opening new possibilities for the next generation of San Antonians.
Just as our downtown is being transformed to reflect who we are as the nation’s seventh largest city, so is our business engagement with the world. San Antonio is just beginning to fully understand what world markets can do for our economy, and we should all be very, very excited about the future.
To see San Antonio’s way forward, download the report at: http://insa.us/invest.