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Chairman POV

Our Work is Just Beginning
By David P. McGee

For years we looked forward to 2020 as an aspirational year for our community and it’s now right at our doorstep. When I became Chairman of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF), I committed to continue working to transform our community’s approach to economic development, how we grow the region smartly and strategically. We began building, changing and growing – not just our San Antonio community but the SAEDF organization as well. Due to the hard work and collaboration of so many constituents across our region, I believe San Antonio is in the best position in its history to become the world-class city it deserves to be by refining our focus and ensuring that educational attainment and talent development drive all of our efforts. I am convinced that we are all ready to begin the hard work of executing on a long-term strategy to reach our full potential.

“Business as usual” propelled San Antonio only so far. What will continue moving us forward are new leaders who challenge this community to think differently, act urgently and inclusively. This began with new leadership at SAEDF. Jenna brought the organization into an entirely new era of competitiveness. Today, the SAEDF team is working bigger projects, attracting more high wage jobs, and fostering regional economic development collaboration. Since 2017, SAEDF has attracted more than 15,000 new jobs and $1.8B capital investment – all on its way to having a $45B economic impact by 2020.

What was once a real estate and incentive game is now about attracting quality companies, growing the companies already here, and shifting our primary focus to talent-led strategies to accomplish both. We’re beginning to see how this shift in focus for our community is affecting longer-term indicators like educational attainment. When the number of Associate Degrees awarded in San Antonio doubles in 5 years (2012-2017), we know that incremental change is putting San Antonio on the right track. It’s up to us as a region to continue focusing our efforts where we can impact people most – by further aligning educational opportunities to San Antonio’s target industries in order to promote career advancement and economic mobility.

SAEDF’s ongoing strategic planning process will provide the roadmap to continue – but this time it will happen with our regional partners. Because of the new leaders at the table today, we are ready to set our sights higher and impact the trajectory of San Antonio’s economic future, a unique position for a group of leaders to be in for a region of our size. We know that this is a pivotal moment in San Antonio’s history and the region must step up or risk losing our shot.

I, like many others involved in this effort, am committed long-term. There is tremendous work to be done and we won’t see the fruits of our labor for some time. I look forward to continuing to promote prosperity in our region through SAEDF. I’d like to recognize and thank those that served on the executive committee, as well as our SAEDF investors and the SAEDF team. They have all stepped up to play an active role in reshaping our region. Many others in the private sector can and should do the same.

Our days of “business as usual” are over. Together, we’re committed to working together and creating prosperity for all San Antonians. Our work is just beginning.