By LSA44 Economic Development team: Beth Green, Dr. Bobby Garza, Sarah Chadek and Rita Philip
Not so long ago, a group of complete strangers came together to plan an event in three weeks about a topic we knew nothing about—Economic Development in San Antonio.
As cities like Austin and Houston explode with population and economic growth, the question is how does San Antonio measure up? Sure, we have all seen the progress at the Pearl and the growth on the North Side of San Antonio. Team Eco-Devo (our code name) knew the beating heart of San Antonio lives in entrepreneurial spirit and innovation.
Nobody can put Baby, we mean San Antonio, in the corner. San Antonio is more than just an an eventful Riverwalk, the best tacos in the state, or Military City USA. San Antonio is a city built on the ideals of individuals who are willing to step outside the box and create something bigger than themselves. So, we asked the question, how will San Antonio thrive in the next 300 years and what are our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
But first, we feast…
The LSA44 participants began their day at the iconic Tony G’s Soul Food restaurant located in District 2 (aka the Eastside). As participants enjoyed chicken and waffles, beautifully seasoned grits, buttermilk biscuits and eggs, Team Eco-Devo introduced a panel of leaders to give the group focus on economic development in San Antonio. . Art Hall, District 2 Councilman welcomed the class with an overview of District 2. Councilman Hall described the vibrant community on the Eastside while he quickly debunking the misconceptions about living on the Eastside. The panel included Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, President & CEO of San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, Carlos Contreras, Assistant Manager for the city of San Anotnio, Joe Linson, Co-Owner of Tony G’s and Chelsea’s Catering and Bar Service and David Robinson, Jr., founding member of Blueprint Local, a firm dedicated to bringing capital and investing in the Opportunity Zones in San Antonio to create impact. The discussion focused on investing in our community, providing employment opportunities and creating a more diverse workforce in San Antonio.
We then made our way to Port San Antonio and the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT). LSA44 learned about technology; its history; and how technology is affecting all areas of workforce development. Paul Hvass from PlusOneRobotics, a start-up company based at Port SA, spoke to the group about their innovative project that is set to revolutionize warehouse operations. Gabriel Garza,with Reckonpoint, presented on using AI for survey scanning. Afterward, David Monroe treated the group to an electrifying display at SAMSAT featuring music and electrical waves. Not only is Mr. Monroe the founder of SAMSAT, he is the inventor of the camera phone and many more technologies we use today.
No shock over here, we needed to eat—again.
Off to Geekdom, where we would dine on delicious True Texas BBQ by H-E-B and tasty sodas by Southside Craft Soda. A group of forward thinking individuals joined us to discuss workforce development in the age of technology. Michael Girdley, founder of Geekdom, Codeup and a host of other companies, Brett Piat, CEO of Jungle Disk, and David Heard, founder of Tech Bloc and CMO of SercureLogix, brought insight and ideas on how to educate and prepare our youth for future jobs.
Afterwards, we were able to walk off the amazing food and avoid a post-lunch food coma. LSA44 took a stroll through downtown and visited the San Pedro Creek project to with Kerry Avery and toured the top of the new Frost Tower with Randy Smith.
As the day began to wind down, the last stop on the official tour was Freetail Brewery located in Southtown. Mike Villarreal, former state representative, talked about the craft brew industry and how large distributors kept breweries from growing. Mike, along with Freetail owners, changed the state beer distribution laws to support the development of craft beer in Texas.
was The Cherrity Bar, an Eastside restaurant and bar whose mission is giving back to the community as 100% of all alcohol profits are donated to different charities each month. This set a perfect scene for happy hour and socializing as the class enjoyed a signature drink (the SWOT-tini), music by The Juantanamos and Asian-inspired bites from Kuriya.
Team Eco-Devo would like to thank all the speakers, sponsors and in-kind support that helped make this event successful.