One of a handful of US cities recognized around the world for its vivid history and cultural richness, San Antonio combines relatively affordable housing with a variety of amenities and entertainment options, an array of postsecondary institutions, and diverse career opportunities. Yet despite its many advantages, San Antonio’s track record competing for jobs, investment, and development has not been commensurate with its value. Factors that have held the City back include an abundance of low-wage work (resulting in one of the lowest median household incomes among its peers), lagging educational attainment levels, and highly segregated development patterns. A lack of attention to development in key commercial corridors has hampered the City’s ability to attract and retain major corporate headquarters and large private employers.
A robust network of partners has long sought to address these issues; however, the work of these organizations is often siloed and sometimes duplicative. Recognizing the need for a more strategic approach, the City’s Economic Development Department (EDD) initiated a planning process to build a more resilient local economy, position San Antonio to compete for capital and investment, and better define the role the EDD should play in that effort. Led by TIP Strategies, with Andrade-Van de Putte Associates and The Retail Coach, the project included in-depth competitive analyses (delivered as interactive data visualizations), extensive stakeholder engagement, a refinement of the City’s strategic industry clusters, and a perception survey targeting site selectors and real estate brokers. The resulting Economic Development Strategic Framework builds on the success of other planning initiatives including greater:SATX’s All In SATX plan and the City’s comprehensive plan, SA Tomorrow, among others. The plan’s three goals (Innovation and Industry, Placemaking and Real Estate, and Talent and Workforce) are supported by recommendations designed to align the City’s economic development tools around a shared framework for growth and enhance coordination with local organizations on strategies that benefit San Antonio as a whole.