2 min read November 2021 — San Antonio is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. In an interview with Invest:, Ron Nirenberg discussed the region’s strong talent pipeline, attractive quality of life and his outlook for the city.
What have been some achievements for San Antonio despite the pandemic?
For San Antonio, we were able to make catalytic investments into our workforce pipeline. We have developed programs to make ourselves a talent factory for just about every emerging industry that will be leading our economies throughout the 21st century. We are investing nearly a quarter of a billion dollars toward reskilling and upskilling our workforce for high-demand careers over the next five-plus years. This is bookended by a significant program that was reupped for early childhood education, as well as significant innovations within our K-12 pipeline along with our higher education institutions. San Antonio, in the midst of the pandemic, has emerged as a talent factory for the country’s most in-demand careers.
What incentivizes talent to stay within or relocate to the region?
A lot of the investments we’ve been making over the past two decades have been directed at improving quality of life, making San Antonio an attractive place to raise a family and establish a career. That is ongoing, and I’m happy to say we have a very vibrant urban community with an art, cultural and historic heritage that is unique. Those investments coupled with our workforce pipeline as well as strong underlying economic fundamentals have created robust and emerging ecosystems in some of the most critical industries, including advanced manufacturing, biosciences, cybersecurity, technology and healthcare. The fact that we are not landlocked and with one of the fastest-growing populations in the country make San Antonio a place where both families and businesses alike will find unmatched ROI for the long term.
How is San Antonio poised to remain on the cutting edge of emerging industry?
The coworking spaces and innovation districts that we’ve fostered will help San Antonio anticipate and grow within such new fields. At the same time, the growth of our higher education institutions, particularly at UTSA, which has world-renowned cyber and data science education programs, along with Texas A&M University-San Antonio and our private institutions, are creating an energy that is going to continue to fuel such innovation.
How is San Antonio addressing the housing crisis?
Housing is a challenge, and it also happens to be the fundamental economic building block of cities. Meeting the housing challenge is absolutely essential for an economy to thrive. San Antonio has an advantage with regard to the availability of real estate and cost of living. When I put together our Housing Task Force, which has developed the city’s first comprehensive framework to address the need for a sustainable and affordable pipeline of housing, it was to get ahead of the curve. Thankfully, we are doing just that, staying ahead of the curve, and we have developed a 10-year business plan to facilitate housing development at every level of affordability. We have a strong and sustainable pipeline of housing of all types, which continues to be a strategic competitive advantage in attracting families and businesses to San Antonio.
What investments demonstrate that infrastructure is a significant priority for San Antonio?
Prior to the pandemic, we had formed a comprehensive transportation plan that was tied to the development of land and emerging economic nodes in our city. While the pandemic put the spotlight on other investments, the work on transportation reform had been well on its way. I’m very happy to see that investment in transportation infrastructure and transportation alternatives is one of the main focus areas of our recovery, whether that’s our street network, mass transit or alternative modes, such as bicycle networks. We have one of the country’s largest and most functional linear trail systems. We are also embarking on a 10-year total makeover of the San Antonio International Airport to ensure that we not only continue to grow as a gateway to Latin America but that we have competitive air service to any visitor or business destination in the world. We are focused on making sure people are connected to each other and to opportunities, whether that be travel, education, retail, recreation or healthcare.
What is your outlook for San Antonio over the coming three years?
San Antonio is building the strongest fundamentals of any city in the country when it comes to the availability and affordability of real estate, reliable clean energy, water, and overall quality of life. We are also focused on fostering a skilled and talented workforce. We are serious about making San Antonio fundamentally strong, and for that reason there isn’t a better place for a business to make an investment than San Antonio, Texas.
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