City of San Antonio Economic Development

The Culture of Business

Rivard Report: Forefront SA: Targeting the ‘Next Generation’ Industries

*Note: The following is an excerpt of a full story from the “Rivard Report” by journalist Edmond Ortiz. To read the full article, please visit: http://bit.ly/245aI9v.

Forefront SA, San Antonio’s five-year economic development strategy, will focus on the City’s emerging industries of information technology, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, new energy, aerospace, and healthcare/bioscience.

The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF), which is leading Forefront SA, hopes that by leveraging assets offered by current stakeholders operating locally in those target sectors, more businesses in these industries will want to come to town.Foundation board Chairman Wayne Peacock and San Antonio Economic Development Director Rene Dominguez updated the City Council about this strategic plan on Wednesday. The ambitious plan – meant to capitalize on San Antonio’s economic development success stories, and sharpen the focus on business recruitment and retention – has been in development since 2013 when consulting firm Deloitte released a job-creation report for the Foundation.

Now, with recommendations from the Deloitte pared down into a workable action plan, the City and SAEDF are nearly ready to implement tactics, per approval of the City Council. During Council’s B Session last week, Peacock described San Antonio as a city full of potential, and one with a diversifying economy. He said a local business-friendly environment is expanding around town, with “meaningful work” taking place in different places, further building up San Antonio’s economic portfolio.

“We have to build a bridge to the future and focus on a clear set of goals,” Peacock said, adding that the task of reaching those goals will rely a lot on capitalizing on emerging industries and economic trends that have boded well for San Antonio in recent years.”

He noted the rental car facility expansion at the San Antonio International Airport, ongoing efforts to increase the number of direct flights from San Antonio, the revitalization of downtown, and the “building up of assets” such as Pearl as a live/work community in the urban core.

He added that venues such as Geekdom provide a valuable ecosystem for businesses rooted in emerging technologies. However, developments such as Pearl and the World Heritage designation placed upon the historic Spanish missions pay tribute to San Antonio’s past and yet they can also help generate jobs and wage growth in the community.

But even with this progress, Peacock and the Foundation said there is room for improvement. The collective goal for Forefront SA, as Peacock put it, is to “propel San Antonio to an economically healthy and prosperous future.” A primary focus, he said, is to spark innovation and speed up economic competitiveness in the industries that have potential to be powerful, reliable generators of jobs and wage growth further into the 21st century.

Peacock also said one desired outcome is for San Antonio to be named a best-performing city by the Milken Institute by 2020.

“We have to build a bridge to the future and focus on a clear set of goals,” Peacock said, adding that the task of reaching those goals will rely a lot on capitalizing on emerging industries and economic trends that have boded well for San Antonio in recent years.”

Forefront SA has a list of supporting objectives:

  • Improve the economic development delivery system
  • Further leveraging the private sector
  • Optimizing existing resources while growing investment
  • Create target sector clarity
  • Improve the rate of growth in the target sectors
  • Change the composition of the local economy

“We have to ask ourselves two questions: What are the areas where San Antonio has assets? Where are the industry clusters that represent growth in 21st century America? Then let’s combine them,” Peacock said. That’s where expanding local industries such as cybersecurity, aerospace and healthcare/bioscience come into play.

According to Forefront SA, the “pillars” of San Antonio’s economic delivery system are solid but need enhancement. Peacock said with the SAEDF continuing to serve as the City’s lead agency for business contacts, the Foundation will double up efforts in attracting new businesses, retaining and expanding existing local ventures, improving entrepreneurial and workforce development, and collaboration.

To continue reading the article, please visit: http://bit.ly/245aI9v.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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