Anyone doing business in the U.S. knows the stretch from Monterrey, Mexico, through San Antonio and up to Austin is booming with opportunity.
Austin’s tech scene is remaking the skyline as San Antonio sees impressive manufacturing growth. The culture-rich lifestyles in both the Live Music Capital of the World and the Alamo City are assets that make the region among the most prosperous in the country.
The astronomical in-migration numbers summarize that story: More than a half-million people moved to the region in the past five years.
A mass of strong industry clusters has developed, like the region’s complex and mature automotive manufacturing cell with anchor companies such as Toyota, Aisin, Navistar and now Tesla. It has leading-edge research and development organizations such as the San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics and the Southwest Research Institute, which has had more space missions than NASA. Texas’ capital has the hottest tech scene outside the Bay Area.
But the real story — the big secret that sets the corridor ahead of other boomtowns — are collaboration and the U.S. military.
The corridor possesses a host of regional defense assets and is looking to leverage those as it competes for the home of the Air Force Space Command. San Antonio and Austin are two cities where business knows how to work with the military. Innovative thinking, a pioneering attitude, and the ability to collaborate have given the corridor an advantage in creating, distributing and improving products.
The region is home to one of the nation’s largest and most valuable military installations, Joint Base San Antonio, or JBSA, including major headquarters for Air Force Cyber Command and Army Medicine. JBSA has more active runways than any other installation and the only Defense Department Level 1 trauma center in the country. It’s no surprise that the University of Texas at San Antonio developed a National Security Collaboration Center to engage government, industry — which includes Accenture, Booz Allen, Cisco, Dell, Noblis, Raytheon and USAA — and academia to predict and overcome the nation’s cyberthreats.
The corridor’s resources provide the infrastructure, health care — such as UT Health San Antonio, Center for the Intrepid and the Dell Medical School — workforce and network for collaborative ventures to succeed. Two incredible real estate assets — Port San Antonio and Brooks, former military installations — are perfectly positioned to accommodate private and defense operations.
Boeing maintains the Air Force C-17 and executive fleet, among others, at Port San Antonio, where it also leads platform upgrades to connected capabilities for the Navy’s F/A-18 SLM, which is more than just an aircraft modification — it is a prime and leading example of the platform integration that the armed forces will continue.
Port San Antonio is also home to StandardAero, the company handling the C-130 engine. The first U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine started in New York, but it came to another unique property — Brooks — shortly thereafter, where pioneering medical innovations for several space programs were made. These properties are just a sample of the available opportunity.
In San Antonio and Austin alone, there are more than 300,000 military veterans — 12 percent more than other regions of this size. Affordability and quality of life make the corridor attractive relative to locations in Northern Virginia and Colorado.
Just over two years ago, the Army Futures Command selected Austin for its tech and startup scene. The headquarters is downtown in space accessible to the business community and the University of Texas at Austin. The future of defense is alive in the capital of Texas.
Among other assets, the corridor sits on the backbone of the least-regulated and most business-friendly state in the nation. If it’s a secret, you’re just not paying attention. The corridor is primed to support the missions of tomorrow.
Gary Farmer is president of Heritage Title and chair of Opportunity Austin. Michael Lynd Jr. is CEO of Kairoi Residential and a member of the executive committee of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.