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Technology & Entrepreneurship

County Passes Funds For Technology Talent Position


Bexar County Commissioners voted Tuesday to give $180,000 to Tech Bloc, so the organization could create a Chief Talent and Recruitment Officer. 

Roughly $150,000 will go towards the CTRO position and resources for it. The position will be responsible for recruiting technology workers targeting local small and medium-sized firms at a cost savings. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also wants that person to look after the homegrown pipeline of talent. Wolff championed the effort because he says successful cities of the future will have thriving technology companies and the talent to go with it.

Those that don't, "You're gonna miss out on the good jobs. You're gonna miss out on all the economic activity that comes out of it, and I must say, in many cases we have been late coming to the game," he says.

Wolff points back to The Datapoint Corporation, the city's principle San Antonio technology company of the 70s and 80s. 
"You know you can trace the personal computer back to Datapoint. They had thousands of people working here at one time," he says.
Wolff argues the city and county missed an opportunity to leverage Datapoint to build up the technology industry around it. When Datapoint declined in the mid-80s, the talent had few local companies to go to, and left, he says.

Tech Bloc CEO David Heard

The position will be managed by the tech advocacy organization Tech Bloc, and CEO David Heard says no other community has tried something like this. He thinks it makes a big statement about how serious San Antonio is about technology.

"But I think what it really says is, look, San Antonio is a tier-two, tier-three city in tech at best, so we gotta get creative," Heard says.

That means  -- Heard says -- the industry will partner with local governments, jobs programs or anyone to innovate and hopefully leapfrog other cities in the effort to grow the technology industry.

$30,000 of the funds will be paired with previous county funds for Tech Bloc to create a website intended to market the city to the tech worker. It will highlight the new Technology District downtown, along with parts of town and activities they hope will entice tech workers to look at San Antonio as a place to build a career.

According to Rene Dominguez, the City of San Antonio has budgeted $150,000 to support Tech Bloc's CTRO in developing of a database that tracks jobs and skills.

"Ultimately the goal is to align educational outlets with the jobs we have and want," he said in a phone interview. The data will help organizations like the Open Cloud Academy or Alamo colleges target their programs. The city will provide the money when the data-management system has been developed.

The combined $350,000 given by the county and the city are considered one-time contributions say staff.

"Our plan is not to go back to the city and county. Our goal is to take their money, be good stewards of it and build it from here," says Heard.

After that, Heard says, Tech Bloc will have to raise the money for the CTRO salary and other resources. Heard estimates that money for the CTRO salary will last about two years.  To make it self-sustaining,  he plans on raising private money from industry, as well as a potential commission program for placing tech workers in firms.