This photo of Austin was captured by George Miquilena. The original photo was cropped, text added and then combined with a photo of San Antonio that was purchased for use by IRC.
Gross Domestic Product
You undoubtedly have heard of the term “GDP”, meaning Gross Domestic Product. It’s a standard measure of a country’s output of goods and services, and provides a comparison of the health of a country usually in comparison to the prior year.
A little dry, I know, but hang with me a moment till we can make it interesting; Think of GDP as our speedometer to good times.
Gross Metropolitan Product
Well, we can measure GDP for a city, too. Let’s call it Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP). This includes not only San Antonio and all cities in Bexar County, but also all of Comal, Kendall, Wilson, Atascosa, Guadalupe, Bandera and Medina Counties. This comprises the entire San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area or MSA.
Ten years ago, in 2012 San Antonio’s GMP was about $92.6-billion. A seemingly shockingly high number, but in 2021, ten years later, we sat at $144.4-billion, an amazing 56% increase! Over 5% per year, even increasing through the pandemic year of 2020.
By the way, gross product means good and services produced and this goes up in two basic ways: the people in that region become more efficient and productive, but the primary growth driver is the new people moving into the area. So, the increase in GMP is related to population growth, as well as creation of wealth.
The Sister City of Austin
Well, our sister city, Austin, just says,” Hold my beer!” In 2012 Austin-Georgetown-San Marcos MSA posted $100-billion GMP which then increased by 2021… wait for it… $194-Billion! Nearly doubling in size of output in just 10 years! Nationally, that moved Austin up from #32 MSA to #22, and ATX is the second fastest growing city in the country.
Austin has the highest employment growth in Texas at 11.3% since the pandemic, one of the highest rates in the U.S.
Austin-San Antonio Corridor
Now let’s look at the Big Picture, by which I mean a Mega-Plex like DFW, a combination of two MSA’s, actually. Dallas and Ft. Worth are 32 miles apart, connected by Arlington, Irving and DFW Airport. Now, San Antonio and Austin are 75 miles apart, connected by New Braunfels, San Marcos, and many smaller cities. As early as 1982 John Naisbett in his book Megatrends created the label “Austin-San Antonio Corridor” for one of his significant Megatrends for the coming decade.
Then, after S.A. lost a competition with Austin for a major computer consortium, Mayor Henry Cisneros decided that pushing the Corridor concept would benefit San Antonio, with Austin using its techiness to develop new designs and San Antonio to become the manufacturing partner. It didn’t quite work out, but it was a noble try.
Austin-San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area
So, please allow me to introduce our new acronym: The ASA-MSA, or Austin-San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area, or the CenTex Mega-Plex, encompassing all 13 counties in both MSA’s into an integrated economic region. Just look at the traffic on IH-35 to see integration in its most graphic sense.
And how is the growth doing now? San Antonio in 2022 employment grew 2.9%, adding 45,800 new jobs to the MSA, while Austin added 71,000 jobs, up 5.8%. In 2012, San Antonio had 895,000 jobs and now 1,286,300 while Austin had 835,000 jobs, and now has about 1,306,125
A number of years ago county Judge Nelson Wolf and I discussed the possibility of the Florida Marlins relocating to San Antonio. One of his major points was that only if Austin joined in with San Antonio would we have the mass of population we needed to engage the TV and Radio media that is needed to make a Major League team work. Media drives the revenues.
Then, about 6 years ago I asked Red McCombs about his possible support for a Triple A ball club when it first came up to put a new stadium in downtown San Antonio. Mr. McCombs forcefully said “no” to a Triple A club and said that San Antonio and Austin needed to join together to get a Major League Club.
While the ASA-MSA has bigger fish to fry than an MLB team, if we can’t come together geographically or socially for that endeavor, then how can we pull off something more significant?
If the ASA-MSA really became a thing, we would have a combined GMP of $358-billion, putting us ahead of Phoenix but below Miami.
That’s the major leagues as far as cities go, but I am not sure that we will end up building a baseball-soccer-football complex between New Braunfels and San Marcos, though.
Greater SATX and Opportunity Austin
Greater SATX recently agreed to partner with Opportunity Austin in pursuing legislation for economic development and job creation for our megaregion.
It’s the “first formalized step in an ever-growing partnership between our organizations and our respective regions” said Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, Greater SATX President and CEO.
As the Chinese saying goes, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with but the first step.’
Now, think of a family with two sisters. One is very attractive, smart, super-hip and energetic, but she is, well, irredeemably weird. Just is, and that’s her style. The other daughter is very sweet, with a traditional charm and beauty, and loves to cook. A family type and everyone loves her.
Will these two sisters, in one family (the IH-35 Corridor), be able to start a business and work together? Hmmm.
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