Job growth is the lifeblood of commercial real estate because it means companies lease new space and build new buildings. Did you know that most of our new jobs come from companies who are already in San Antonio, not relocations from outside? For example, HEB builds a new grocery store and hires 300 new people. A new restaurant opens, and 10-15 new jobs are created. We have thousands of small businesses in San Antonio, and as our city grows, they will each add one or two people and thus the organic growth is sustained. This is a sign of a very healthy community.
Who are San Antonio’s biggest employers? HEB, USAA, Frost Bank, Bill Millers and Rackspace all were born and breed in the Alamo City. What’s one of the biggest employment areas? The military, which has been here in one form and another since 1719, when soldiers came along to protect the missions, and then the Alamo. Then the Wright Brothers did touch and goes off of the Ft. Sam’s parade field and four Air Force bases were born. Military City USA is homegrown, in my view.
So, rather than depending on relocating new companies from elsewhere, we need to look within our own borders for our next new successes. I am a big supporter of the SAEDF but companies don’t move HQs very often. Amazon has made a big splash with their national competition for their HQ2. Unfortunately, SA’s mayor declined to even compete. Most major corporations are home grown, not imported. Amazon grew up in Seattle, and is outgrowing it, apparently. Microsoft never moved out of Seattle, nor Boeing’s manufacturing.
So what are we doing about helping grow the next crop of big local businesses? Something very exciting is happening downtown that will have a huge impact for decades to come. Not Frost Bank Tower, not The Pearl, not H-Park. It is business complexes like Geekdom, ScaleWorks and Texas Research and Technology Foundation. These are very important seedbeds for new companies to get started and grow. The entrepreneurial fever downtown is amazing where dozens of small businesses in the technology field are straining to grow. Thanks to RackSpace, we have attracted some exceptionally talented people to work in our city. Then, we have homeowners like Graham Weston and Lew Moorman who are making an enormous contribution to helping these micro businesses get started and grow. From these small seeds we will see the major employers for future decades bloom and produce the fruit of lots of jobs and great opportunities in our Fair City. We must nurture small businesses, not penalize them with the Sick Leave requirement the city just passed, or the giant burden of property taxes. Small businesses provide the majority of new jobs and a healthy economy.
We have to be happy with who we are and capitalize on our own strengths: our great, long heritage, our diversity and our pleasant way of life. Let’s continue to grow our own.