Port San Antonio opened the doors to its newest building Wednesday night, marking a new chapter for the 100 year-old campus on the city’s southwest side.
The $20 million facility was conceived as the first of six buildings focused on the cyber security and technology industries. Breaking free of the image of the port as just a runway with big airplanes, staff said they wanted this development to have new architecture and new, more welcoming spaces they hope will lead to new collaborative endeavors between energy, advanced manufacturing, aerospace and cybersecurity.
"This is the beginning of convergence,”said Jim Perschbach, interim Port San Antonio CEO. “This is starting to build a campus that can bring these various disciplines together."
With the smell of fresh paint wafting from the walls, a dozen workers landscaped outside and scrubbed the floors inside the 90,000 square foot building one of Project Tech, preparing it for the by-invitation-only event.
“The building is now ready to be finished out for technology, cyber security and engineering companies,” Perschbach said.
The upper two floors remain skeletal inside as they wait on the tenants to tell them their needs. The ability to build space for a sensitive compartmented information facility is a normal request for companies hoping to work on Department of Defense contracts. The lack of SCIF space — where government and commercial cyber organizations could collaborate and discuss top secret needs near federal cyber assets like the 24th and 25th Air Force and National Security Agency Texas — was highlighted in an industry analysis four years ago.
Still weeks away from announcing its first tenant, Pershbach said they have more interest from companies then they have space.
He gave no timeline on breaking ground for building two, but said it might be something very different from office space. With the rise in cyber attacks on critical infrastructure control systems, from Ukraine to revelations about Russian penetration of the U.S. power grid, Port San Antonio is considering building out an industrial control system test range.
“You look at things like industrial control systems and cyber hardening of industrial systems, a lot of that requires more than just the software,” he said. “A lot of that can’t be done behind a computer screen. You need to model out a factory floor or a power system.”
Right now, those kinds of capital intense investments are limited to government labs and large multinationals, but this could be a value add for small and medium sized cybersecurity companies focused on the cyber physical, Perschbach said.
Growing the portfolio of San Antonio’s businesses is at the heart of Project Tech, said Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, CEO of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, in a statement, describing the project as “a valuable asset that Team San Antonio uses to promote our community to the world.”