It's Time to Look South

Op-Ed by Connie Gonzalez, SoTx Board Chair

Welcome to the prelude of the next great Texas success story. South San Antonio has reached a moment in time every investor dreams of–where the gains realized are far beyond anything we could have imagined. Years of focused and collaborative development have led to this golden hour in time, and South Texas is ready to reap the benefits.
The evidence that South Texas is on the brink of major expansion is everywhere–if you take the time to look. Leaders have spent years sowing the seeds for this moment by cultivating a community and workforce that is changing the game. How can we be so certain that the time is now? Because in San Antonio we’ve seen this exact scenario play out again and again. It always begins with a slow, thoughtful build-up, followed by a series of major shifts that drive what seems to be an “overnight success.” The Pearl. Port San Antonio. Brooks. The Rim. San Pedro Creek Culture Park.
However, those of us who’ve been close to these efforts know just how long they’ve been in the works, cultivated by leaders with good old-fashioned determination and business acumen. 

At ​​the South Texas Business Partnership (SoTx), we see the pattern repeating on the South Side. Consider the tremendous high-profile investments already made:

  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Inc. has invested $3 billion since 2003 and employs 3,200 San Antonioians. 
  • Navistar’s $250 million investment in a new million-square-foot facility will employ 600 people once fully operational. 
  • Okin Process, a business process outsourcing company based in the Czech Republic, located their U.S. headquarters at Brooks with plans to add 1,500 jobs.
  • Port San Antonio has over 80 tenant customers who employ nearly 16,000 people and generates over $5 billion in annual economic activity.
  • Further South, the Beeville Area Partnership has secured two multimillion-dollar investments in the last three years that will create 600 jobs, and the Port of Corpus Christi is the nation’s top port for energy exports.
Additional exciting and game-changing investments are evident in our workforce like the $13 million investment by Bexar County for the Texas Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education facility being built at Brooks. It’s a powerful undercurrent that is bringing STEM and tech expertise to a phenomenal level. Unfortunately, too much of this incredible progress has been a well-kept secret.

It’s time to change that. SoTx’s mission is to be the resource small towns and counties can use to grow. SoTx and its partners are currently identifying potential development mega sites in the South Texas region; specifically parcels of land over 500 acres with access to city infrastructure. We recognize what leaders' barriers are in the region: current infrastructure, underdeveloped land and natural barriers to small-town living. It will take investors with vision and long-term mindsets to unlock the region's full potential. Fortunately, we know where to find these folks. They are all around us, and they’ve dreamed big before. It’s why the South Texas Business Partnership is hosting its first South Texas Business Summit where leaders and investors across the region can gather to align on a vision. 

San Antonio natives remember the days when some people ignored the potential of The Pearl. When they scoffed at bringing back manufacturing. When they parked on the side of the road as the opportunities along the I-35 corridor left them behind. In this next great story, there is no question where the bright road leads: it’s South. The only question is who will stay parked and who will drive the South Texas region to the next great success story.

Connie Gonzalez is the Chairwoman for the South Texas Business Partnership and Chief Strategy Officer at Brooks.