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San Antonio Needs Work To Improve Business Perception, Attract Companies

Ryan Loyd
TPR News
Downtown street signs direct tourists and visitors to landmarks and other destinations around downtown San Antonio.

The city of San Antonio commissioned an imaging study to see how people across the country – especially business leaders – perceive the Alamo City.

Of 102 respondents, it found that 38 percent of people in big industries like healthcare, information technology (IT) and aerospace are unfamiliar with the infrastructure, business climate, and governance offered by San Antonio.

The report said a lack of familiarity puts San Antonio at a disadvantage to key competitors, cities like San Diego, where business executives are more aware of what they can expect.

"Things that we like to really talk about are things such as our rich culture, our Hispanic population, which we're very proud of, but those are not necessarily attributes that are going to drive site selection," said Tonya Fowler with the firm Frost & Sullivan, who conducted the study.

During its study, which began last fall, Frost & Sullivan found themes that resonated with business leaders: Family and values, infrastructure and location were named as important.

The biggest area of red tape for businesses, the study found, was being told all the measures to relocate or expand were in place. In reality the person in charge at the city level could not approve the project. The example, which was given by an anonymous company, said it resulted in wasted time and costing the company more than it should have.

San Antonio is also doing things right though, according to Economic Development Foundation President Mario Hernandez.

In what seems like a contrast to the previous example, Hernandez said executives found San Antonio has a pro-business governance with leaders who communicate effectively, acts like a partner and is committed to infrastructure.

Hernandez said the foundation now has $1.3 million more to work with in marketing money.

More resources comes with more responsibility, and he said he wants to change perception of San Antonio.

"Corporate America believes that we're more blue collar than white collar and that's simply not true," he said. "Nothing wrong with blue collar, we love manufacturing, it's one of our key targets. But at the same time we want to make sure that the companies out there understand that this is a dynamic, educated workforce."

City Council’s Economic and Community Development Committee heard the findings of the report, which will be shared with all members of the city council.