President POV

The New Game: Community Development vs. Economic Incentives
by Jenna Saucedo-Herrera

The media love a sexy headline. In the game of economic development, few announcements are flashier than huge incentive packages. Most of the big deals in the headlines lead with the value of public incentive dollars followed by the quality jobs these companies are creating. While incentives can be helpful, they alone don’t make a community successful at business recruitment and retention. Extra dollars can be attractive, but ultimately, a world-class product is what makes a sale. In San Antonio, we prioritize our region’s quality of life and workforce—the greatest indicators of a community’s economic success—which is why we’re on the verge of winning big.

In 2006, state and local incentives were among the top 5 considerations for corporate executives looking to relocate or expand in another market. By 2018, that priority dropped to number 7. Workforce availability climbed six spots to number 1 and quality of life, a factor not previously in the top 10, moved to number 6, according to experts.

Incentives aren’t what bring projects to this community—it’s a collective package that includes a high-quality workforce, competitive cost of business, culturally diverse and inclusive population, collaborative cross-sector support and the business-friendly environment that brings them to our door. In reality, only around 15% of SAEDF projects have accepted economic incentives from the City of San Antonio or Bexar County in the last 5 years. When we invest in our community first, incentives become an effective tool to get the large-scale projects over the finish line.

To further improve, SAEDF and partners throughout the region have begun a collaborative process to assess our regional assets and plan strategically to build a more vibrant community in which to live, work and do business. To do this, we need input from those living and working throughout the region.

Please take and share the San Antonio Region Economic Development Survey in English: or in Spanish: The survey closes Monday, July 1st at 5:00 CDT.

With your input, we can continue to develop our region in an informed, strategic way and take us to the next level. It’s time for us to play in the Big Leagues—and play to win. 

Return to EcoDevo 360 - Issue 64