Michael Lynd Jr. is CEO of Kairoi Residential and a member of the executive committee of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. Gary Farmer is president of Heritage Title and the chair of Opportunity Austin.
Austin’s tech scene rapidly remaking the skyline, San Antonio’s impressive manufacturing growth and the culture-rich lifestyles that exist in both the Live Music Capital of the World and the Alamo City are assets that make the region among the most prosperous in the country. The astronomical in-migration numbers summarize that story: more than a half-million people moved to the region in the past five years.
A mass of strong industry clusters have developed, like the region’s complex and mature automotive manufacturing cell, with anchor corporate citizens Toyota, Aisin, Navistar and now, Tesla. It has leading-edge R&D organizations like the San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics and Southwest Research Institute, with more space missions than NASA, in addition to aerospace Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) innovations, the hottest tech scene outside the Bay Area and Cyber City USA.
But the real story, the big secret that sets “The Corridor” ahead of other boomtowns, is collaboration and the U.S. Military.
“San Antonio and Austin are two cities where business knows how to work with the military.”
The corridor possesses a host of regional defense assets and is looking to leverage those as it competes with other U.S. locations for the home of the Air Force Space Command. San Antonio and Austin are two cities where business knows how to work with the military. Innovative thinking, a pioneer attitude and the ability to collaborate have given the corridor an advantage in creating, distributing and improving products, tech and processes.
The region is home to one of the nation’s largest and most valuable military installations: Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), including major headquarters for Air Force Cyber and Army Medicine. JBSA has more active runways than any other installation and the only Level-1 DoD Trauma Center in the country. It’s no surprise that The University of Texas at San Antonio developed a National Security Collaboration Center to engage government, academia and industry — including Accenture, Booz Allen, Cisco, Dell, Noblis, Raytheon and USAA — to predict and overcome the nation’s cyber threats.
Corridor resources provide the infrastructure, workforce, network and healthcare — such as UT Health Science Center, Center for the Intrepid and the recently opened Dell Medical School — for collaborative ventures to succeed. Two incredible real estate assets, Port San Antonio and Brooks, both former military installations, are perfectly positioned to accommodate both private and military operations.
Boeing already maintains the Air Force C-17 and executive fleet (among others) at Port San Antonio, where they also lead platform upgrades to connected capabilities for the Navy F/A-18 SLM, which is more than just an aircraft modification — it is a prime and leading example of the platform integration that the Armed Forces will continue. Port San Antonio is also home to StandardAero, the company handling the C-130 engine. The first U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine started in New York, but it relocated to another unique property, Brooks, shortly thereafter, where pioneering medical innovations for several space programs were made. These properties are just a sample of the available opportunity.
More than 300,000 military veterans choose to live and work in San Antonio and Austin — 12% more than other regions of this size. Affordability and quality of life make the corridor very attractive relative to locations in Northern Virginia and Colorado.
Just over two years ago, the Army Futures Command selected Austin for its tech and startup scene. The headquarters is located downtown in space accessible to the business community and The University of Texas. The future of defense is alive in the capital of Texas.
Among other assets, the corridor sits on the backbone of the least regulated and most business-friendly state in the nation. If it’s a secret, you’re just not paying attention. The corridor is primed to support the missions of tomorrow.
The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) is a private, non-profit organization leading San Antonio’s transformative economic growth through business recruitment, business retention and expansion, and workforce development.