On Friday, May 22nd, Judge Nelson Wolff gave his annual State of the County address, with high expectations for San Antonio’s development over the next few years. San Antonio is often compared to its northern neighbor, Austin - economically, culturally, and even gastronomically. However, the Bexar County Judge was confident in every way that San Antonio could catch up with, and even one day have an edge over Austin - specifically by embracing the technology economy.
The optimistic judge specified in detail what would need to be done in San Antonio. Here’s what you need to know:
Don’t Worry! San Antonio is Already Doing Well
San Antonio and Bexar County in general have witnessed incredible employment growth over the last 5 years and have an impressively low unemployment rate. The positive state of the economy has allowed the county to gradually lower property taxes over the last decade and a half.
San Antonio’s prosperity owes a lot to the expansion of various industries: manufacturing, cybersecurity, and oil and gas, to name a few. But in order to continue growth, San Antonio needs to keep innovating – and in this case, that means opening up to the tech industry, something Wolff said would be key criteria in measuring the success of modern cities.
Local Government Must Embrace Disruptive Technologies
The residents and government leaders of San Antonio and Bexar County should welcome more projects like San Antonio’s Bibliotech, the first 100% digital public library in the U.S. Innovative ventures similar to Bibliotech will attract other tech industry leaders and bright minds to the region by boosting San-Antonio’s forward-thinking repute. Fittingly, Judge Wolff will create a $1,000,000 grant to attract and propagate local San Antonio tech companies.
It may not seem relevant, but housing contributes to a city’s livability perception, which in turn contributes to the success of industry development, especially when the goal is to recruit newcomers. Therefore, San Antonio must continue to develop high-quality housing, particularly in inner-city areas, which will enhance economic development in those neighborhoods.
Expanding Municipal Fiber
Austin has connected its public institutions including universities with CPS fiber. San Antonio must be willing to fund a similar system. This could provide high-speed broadband access across the city.
San Antonio IT officer Hugh Miller is also looking to work with Google high speed fiber.
More Tech is Needed in the Health Care & Academic Fields
Local hospitals are using a $900 million endowment to modernize their facilities and invest in advanced technology. Meanwhile, universities should be expected to spend more on technology research and education, including funding new degree programs in high-tech fields.
Everybody Must Be Involved
Wolff has urged private sector companies to step up their game when it comes to development of employees’ tech skills and development of the cyber security industry. He has smartly dubbed this entire undertaking ‘Innovative Tech City’.
While this may be clearly ambitious, San Antonio is already well on its way. In fact, the oil and gas industry has shown itself to be an unlikely magnet for tech companies in the area – many tech start-ups dashed up in response to the requirements of energy companies, catering to their need for efficient processes and industry-specific software.
Outside of the oil & gas industry, numerous San Antonio tech companies have also been making waves. Unlike Austin, the city has certainly not attracted big names like Google & Uber yet. Still, San Antonio is home to a growing number of small but high-quality, original-idea start-ups – and that may be an even clearer sign of an innovative city.
Is San Antonio the next Silicon Valley? Let us know in the comments below!