San Antonio.- Earlier this week, more than a 1000 business and city leaders gathered at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center to listen to Mayor Julián Castro’s fourth United State of the City Address -- a collaboration of The Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce, the Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
The mayor’s theme for the 2013 presentation was, "It's Happening."
“IT means progress; IT means prosperity; IT means the future; IT means us,” Castro said. “We can create the most prosperous, most successful, most envied city in the United States.”
David Holmberg, CEO of Visionworks, introduced Castro, discussing his company’s commitment to San Antonio and announcing that United States Based Centralized Labs, a division of Visionworks, now employs 1,118 people in the San Antonio community.
The Decade of Downtown is a great example of public-private partnerships that work according to Holmberg. He added Visionworks would be making a big announcement in the next few weeks thanks to the opportunities available in San Antonio.
“Working together we are building a world class business in San Antonio,” Holmberg added.
In his opening remarks, Castro recognized his spouse, Erica Castro and his mother, Rosie Castro, and thanked the members of his City Council and all the members of his administration and the business community.
“It’s been an extraordinary year for San Antonio since we’ve last been here – and I’ve been called a great many things – but I never get tired of being called Erica Castro’s husband,” Castro said.
The mayor covered the success of projects already in motion, such as SA2020, the ability of the city to modernize infrastructure thanks to the largest bond offering in San Antonio’s history and Café College.
“San Antonio was just listed on the Forbes list of Best places to find good jobs,” he added.
He enumerated the goals of SA2020 and the efforts of thousands of San Antonians to achieve those goals, including the voter-approved bond – the largest investment in infrastructure in the history of San Antonio. The mayor also announced that Doyle Beneby would stay on for an additional two years as head of CPS Energy and that the San Antonio Water System will have the opportunity to add up to 50,000 acre-feet of water so that “ no one, no business, will have to wonder whether San Antonio has enough water.”
Castro was also said that Monday night the Northeast Independent School District voted to join the Pre-K for SA program.
“Every great city or great company begins with a dream,” Castro said.
“You know what – it is happening in San Antonio … so far our college enrollment in San Antonio went up by 7.7 percent … since September of 2010, more than 20,000 students have taken advantage Café College …” he added.
Out of the top one hundred metros, the mayor said San Antonio ranks sixth among cities attracting well-educated people.
“We have a brain gain in San Antonio – not a brain drain,” Castro said. He discussed dramatic improvements on the Eastside, particularly noting increased parental engagement, better attendance rates and progress in making sure the children have medical care.
Castro also said that by the close of this year, more than 2500 residential units will be open in the area, marking the early success of the Decade of Downtown by truly reinvigorating downtown.
He added downtown is not just for young people and empty nesters – it’s for everyone -- and told the story of a young couple with a baby that moved from Stone Oak to a downtown loft so their children could truly experience San Antonio.
“Great cities have great downtowns and we need to continue to make that investment,” Castro said.
The success of these projects is encouraging the city to invest even more – this time in the future of small businesses.
Castro noted that more than three quarters of the jobs in San Antonio are provided by small business. So this summer, to encourage organic growth, the city is starting Café Commerce – a one-stop shop for budding entrepreneurs.
But small businesses and large ones too need employees with skills and know-how.
The Mayor noted that whatever their vocation, people’s success in the in the 21st century global economy hinges on solid training – either college or some form training beyond high school. More than 60 percent of the jobs out there require advanced training, according to Castro.
“2013 must be the year San Antonio must recognize we must close the skills gap … to insure there is a talented pipeline of people who have the skills to take on the workplace,” he said.
Angela Covo is a reporter for La Prensa de San Antonio. She may be reached at email@example.com.