San Antonio: City on the Rise or a City Still Asleep?

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View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA's Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.

View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA's Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.

(Originally published on June 21, 2014.)

I love San Antonio.  Until I moved here, my perception of the city was one shared by almost everyone else in the world.  San Antonio: home to the Alamo, River Walk, Sea World, Fiesta Texas and Mexican food, and not much else. I’ve lived here for more than three years now, and have not been to any of the tourist traps. I also never needed to see a city-sponsored advertisement to know these tourist destinations exist, and neither does anyone else in the world.  If you say “San Antonio” to anyone, nine times out of 10 they will say, “Remember the Alamo!”

I recently attended an event where young professionals from LOOP urged city leaders to embrace an updated approach to branding  San Antonio. The city I know and love and experience every day is not the city of River Walk mariachi, souveneir coonskin caps and theme park water rides. The San Antonio I know and want others to know about  is a city with a truly unique place with its own personality, just the kind of place that ought to appeal to young, talented people looking for a great place to live, work and play. In other words, a City on the Rise. The city can change its branding, but it needs to do so in a way that not only changes outsiders’ perceptions, but more importantly, stimulates insiders’ perceptions and values.

San Antonio’s political and private sector leaders say that they want to attract talented people and growing businesses, but that’s not the message gleaned from our branding efforts. San Antonio instead still continues to advertise itself as a city where you are welcome to come for a meeting or few days of fun and then leave.  San Antonio has so much going for it and it is growing. It has the potential to go from a “City on the Rise” to a “City at the Top,” but unless city leaders start addressing how to keep talented young professionals from fleeing the city, it will always be a City on the Rise of the dry hill that lurks in the shadows of the giant mountaintops of Houston, Austin and Dallas.

People are moving away from San Antonio because there are better jobs in Midland.  Just to be clear, young people would rather live in Midland.

Sure, there are 30 million tourists and convention goers that come to the city for a week and spend money at franchised hotels, franchised theme parks, touristy restaurants and shops, but that kind of spending provides more immediate benefits to the owners than it does to the broader San Antonio economy.  Most residents of this city do not spend money at these establishments and most of us don’t work for these establishments. I’m sure the tourism industry employs many residents, but what kind of long-term growth potential is there for the average hotel worker or bartender or restaurant worker?  The money that the city spends to brand itself as a tourist destination really only helps out those destinations; it doesn’t help San Antonio as a whole, it doesn’t help out the young college students that leave for greener pastures, and it doesn’t stimulate the young professionals who move here for work.

Example of the Convention and Visitor Bureau's new marketing campaign, "Unforgettable." Courtesy image.

Example of the Convention and Visitor Bureau’s new marketing campaign, “Unforgettable.” Courtesy image.

Sure, San Antonio’s population is growing but how much of that is due to newcomers with high-paying, sustainable jobs versus those who come to retire, or work in low-paying jobs, or decide to leave after a year?  People who are from here or decide to stay will tell you that San Antonio is a great place to live because the cost of living is low and housing is affordable.  Sure, the cost of living is low if you have a good job, but good jobs are not plentiful.  Sure, housing is affordable, but what about the ability to sell your house to someone who’s willing to pay what you’re asking?  Even though costs are low, compared to national averages, the average wages paid to the average San Antonio resident pale in comparison to wages paid in other cities.  What is affordable to a couple of lucky people is expensive for most people here.  Affordable cost of living and cheap housing is not what attracts young talent to cities; neither is tourism, for that matter.

The reasons I love San Antonio have nothing to do with the tourist attractions that the city spends so many tax-payer dollars to promote.  Over more than three years of living here, I’ve learned that there is much more to this city than the tourist attractions. I witnessed the Pearl revitalize Midtown and watched new Southtown restaurants attract foodies.

The Pearl Brewery complex. Photo courtesy of Lake/Flato Architects.

The Pearl Brewery complex. Photo courtesy of Lake/Flato Architects.

I learned about Rackspace and saw its influence on other IT companies and start-ups and have been to Geekdom several times. I have seen lofts go up in the Museum Reach district and heard about proposed developments in Downtown. I’ve been to the Witte, the McNay, the Briscoe and SAMA. I’ve watched movies and Spurs games at the Friendly Spot and Taps y Tapas, been all over Blue Star and participated in First Fridays. I’ve seen live music at Sam’s Burger Joint, the Majestic, Maverick Fest, and the Japanese Tea Gardens. I’ve ridden bikes down the Mission Reach and kayaked down the river; and I love being close enough the Hill Country or the Rio Grande Valley to get outdoors.

San Antonio is not for everyone. It has its own culture and social dynamic that is very unique, but is not very amenable to changing norms and preferences. It seems to be a sleeping giant that would rather sleep than wake up and use its strength and size to promote change and innovation.

Most cities that are attracting and keeping young professionals have a little bit of everything for all sorts of different people in one or a couple of centralized areas, and they are constantly changing or setting the course for new national trends. San Antonio is not that way; many aspects of this city are very insular, stagnated, and uninviting to outsiders or transplants.  A couple of examples that come to mind:

  1. Politics mean more than individual performance. Who someone knows or who they’re related to is more important than what potential a person has.
  2. Income disparity prevents introduction and implementation of new ideas. The majority of those with wealth and power invest in the status quo, but not the potential for future innovation and progress of new ideas.
  3. Geographic and socioeconomic divisions leave the city disjointed and lead to a lack of overall civic integration. The Metro area is divided between wealthy, independent municipalities and poor, dependent neighborhoods.
  4. San Antonio has 140,000 college and graduate students, but most of these young people leave the city for places like Austin, Portland, Denver, New York City and San Francisco.  These are just a few of the realities that define San Antonio and disenfranchise talented young newcomers.

Even if San Antonio can change its branded image in print ads and targeted marketing campaigns, the above realities would still be the same and would continue to make outsiders feel unwelcome, unchallenged, unfulfilled, and unconnected. You can’t create an image or brand that misrepresents reality. You can’t just put lipstick on a pig.

I read somewhere that, “A brand is more than a logo or a tagline. It’s a collection of company values, product designs, customer experiences, and all sorts of intangible elements that other brands try to distill and repackage.  An industry-leading brand is much more. It’s a constant source of knowledge and expertise that drives the industry forward as a whole and sets the pulse for innovation and discovery.”

San Antonio’s current branded image is a collection of city values and city designs and resident desires aimed at tourists, convention-goers, and the city’s pride in a ready store of cheap labor, as well as other intangibles that perpetuate San Antonio’s current reality.  No other city tries to repackage that brand because it’s a stale brand.  The problem is that people who live here trust in this brand because that’s the brand they are accustomed to.  Most are okay with this brand because they are apathetic to the city values, its design, its experience, and other intangibles that define reality in San Antonio.  If San Antonio wants to be a leader and actually be more than just a City on the Rise, it needs to change its values and its designs internally, not just the image it creates for outsiders.

Example of the Convention and Visitor Bureau's 2013 marketing campaign, "Unforgettable." Courtesy image.

Screenshot of the Convention and Visitor Bureau’s 2013 marketing campaign, “Unforgettable.” Courtesy image.

The new brand needs to be aimed at insiders just as much, if not more, than to outsiders.  If the majority of insiders believe in the current brand, why wouldn’t they believe in a new brand?   The image San Antonio puts out will follow the cultural change that can only occur if city leaders and business leaders allow it to change to accommodate changing ideals and values.  The branding needs to focus not only on how to attract young professionals, but how to keep young professionals who will be a constant source of knowledge and expertise that drives the city forward as a whole and sets the pulse for innovation and discovery.

If San Antonio doesn’t focus on branding itself, aligning an image with changing values, designs, experiences and other intangibles in a way that both attracts and keeps young talent and new businesses, then the city will be a constant source of worn-out knowledge, aging expertise, and fleeing young people. It will keep the city from moving forward as a whole and will set the pulse for stagnation and lost opportunities.

San Antonio’s landscape is slowly changing, but only to those who have been here and can notice the changes. People who aren’t from here will still experience all the realities mentioned above unless city leaders address the systemic realities that gave rise to the current brand.

Here are a couple of ideas that city leaders can use:

  1. Abandon the downtown street-car project that will solve no problems and only make a couple of rich people richer.  Instead, invest in a rail system that connects UTSA, St. Mary’s, UIW, Trinity and other colleges, Stone Oak, Converse, the South Side and East Side with Downtown. It will get young people involved in different parts of the city and connect the poorly-planned city around a vibrant downtown.
  2. Don’t let Google use tax-payer resources for its fiber network so that it can make more money and pay little to no tax.  Instead, do some research for a city-owned network and lease it out to new home-grown providers . It will allow residents to invest directly in the city’s future, create jobs to lay the network, create competition in the industry, and create long-term revenue for the city.
  3. Start a city-sponsored film, music, and arts festival. It will attract outsiders, excite insiders, and promote cultural exchanges.
  4. Provide real tax incentives to all land owners, not just big businesses, to install water conservation systems. It will help our water crisis, create competition among installers, and make residents invested in the future of this city.
  5. Put up a website where residents can propose, but not argue over, other innovative changes and hold quarterly referendums that allow community members to vote for the best changes. It will help awake the giant so that it can promote real democratic change.

*Featured/top image: View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA’s Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.

Related stories:

A City on the Rise Meets the Startup Nation in Jerusalem

 Mayor Castro’s State of the ‘City on the Rise’

San Antonio: A City on the Rise in a State of Indifference

A Research University’s Role in a City on the Rise

San Antonio Has Google Fiber Potential

How Google Fiber in San Antonio May Deter Internet as a Public Utility

73 thoughts on “San Antonio: City on the Rise or a City Still Asleep?

  1. San Antonio has lost it’s soul , becoming a tacky tourist trap , without a vibrant viable downtown .
    There are no book stores downtown , a pathetic transportation system that shuts down at midnight .
    There is not one theater that shows international or indie films downtown .
    I grew up in the West Side , but have lived in San Francisco , New York and now lived in Denver .

  2. San Antonio has always been a tourist city. If anything the entire downtown/southtown/midtown area has grown and become way more vibrant in recent years. Aside from that, last year Forbes ranked us #11 on their list of Best Cities for Business and Careers. And who would rather live in Midland? We have the booming Eagle Ford oilfield in our backyard. In the past two years Baker Hughes, Weatherford, Halliburton and Schlumberger have built “super yards” here. People go where the jobs are, and the jobs are here.

  3. Point 1 is what hit home. You are absolutely correct. It’s who you know not what you know. It’s discouraging, dream shattering and soul breaking. Your other point ties in with this one – maintaining the status quo by a few…a very few.

  4. Fantastic article. Hits it right on the head. San Antonio needs to move on, embrace change and become alive for residents… not just tourists. I love the hispanic culture of the city, but for goodness sake, does EVERYTHING have to look and sound and feel like it have been picked up and dropped from Mexico?

  5. My vote would be to have the CVB continue to focus on improving visitation (which showcases our city to future residents and business owners as well as brings important tax dollars) and figure out the best ways to empower all the groups who want SA to continue this amazing momentum. Passion and different perspectives are good. We just need some collaborative ways to get everyone to work together. Just like the Spurs, let’s make the extra pass.

  6. It’s a city on the rise that is rising slowly. The class warfare thing is there and it’s kinda like Austin down by the Pearl; one part is nice and clean and the other part is not so nice and not very clean. Southtown, Midtown and parts of downtown are like that and that’s where the VIA streetcar is going to be.

    Sure, we can wait until the expansion but the parts that will benefit will be those spots. That isn’t exactly fair to individuals in other parts of the city whose taxes are used.

    • You know it’s funny when people say class warfare, it’s like saying I don’t have any motivation to make my dreams come true so somebody else should give me a part of their dream so I can be happy too. Class warfare is a lie that has been trying to kill the American dream. The rage many Americans feel for the extremely rich who do not pay their share …does not come from the traditional left or right. It comes exactly from those who are not so wealthy, in the form of college students and tea baggers, teachers, and the unemployed….and mainly the fools at the top of the food chain keep harping on about class warfare. Very dangerous indeed!!

  7. Great article with many excellent takeaways for residents and leaders alike to mull and discuss. However, your second suggestion for leaders to consider — the one about Google Fiber — misrepresents the reality of that particular situation.

    In fact, the city *did* its research and via its city-owned utility laid a fiber network throughout the city many years ago, the vast majority of whose capacity remains unlit, due to restrictions codified in state law.

    It was the powerfully entrenched telecommunications industry whose lobbyists convinced the state legislature to protect its lucrative business interests by passing legislation (signed by George W. Bush) that forbids municipalities from doing exactly what you exhort city leaders to do — and that which they’ve already attempted.

    The legislation is broad enough that it even forbids the lease of city-owned fiber to third parties. So that avenue of public-private partnership you suggest is a non-starter — at least until such time as the state legislature puts the interests of its own citizens ahead of the interests of deep-pocketed corporations. Which is to say … well, let’s just say, “Don’t hold your breath.”

    The Google Fiber project seeks to bring to San Antonio the progress that Austin has stonewalled for many years by stimulating the private sector to develop market-driven product offerings. Google Fiber hopefully will only be the first such offering. Other providers (AT&T, etc.) will be forced to compete or risk losing their market share.

    So, you see, by working with Google — currently the only private sector company that has expressed a desire to invest in laying its own fiber network — the city’s leaders are, in fact, demonstrating the leadership you ask of them on the issue, despite being hamstrung by Austin on municipal fiber.

    Here’s a starting point for your own research on the topic:

    And a link to the relevant state statute:

    A Google search will bring up lots more information. If you’re interested in working to help change this situation, I’d advise you to seek out former Councilwoman Leticia Ozuna, who is a leading advocate for lighting the city’s fiber network, and citizen activist (and occasional Rivard Report writer) Randy Bear, both of whom are far more educated on the topic than I.

    • Thanks for the information Hugh. I wish I had known about this before writing that suggestion the way I did because I think your point about the legislation, lobbyists, and stonewalling gives credence to the main point of this article: city leaders (both public and private sector) can/should address the systemic problems that gave rise to the current realities which curb innovation and progress.

      In light of the information you provided, it is interesting to note how San Antonio’s (not to mention Texas’) systemic realities have led to the point where Google is the only provider that has presented a bid: the legislation was pushed by the telecom industry (presumably led by AT&T among others); was passed by the legislature; AT&T was based here in San Antonio then left for Dallas; “the [Texas Utilities] commission may approve an application and grant a certificate only if the commission finds that the certificate is necessary for the service, accommodation, convenience, or safety of the public” (Tex. Utilities Code, Sec. 54.054); CPS spent money building fiber optic network that it can’t use for public benefit; Google will reap a huge financial benefit at the city and citizen’s expense; and city leaders just point to laws on the books that impede the public good rather than contest them and fight for the public good.

      But like you and Michael Girdley suggested, that’s unlikely to happen…so I won’t hold my breath…

  8. My favorite question to begin a people-based and creative local development is ” What’s going on here?”.Most times, the vitality of a city or neighborhood is already there. but no one is looking and gathering in the right places. there is a lot of Authentic culture going on “behind the bushes” in San Antonio. people ar doing poetry in the parks, building insect hotels and growing home grown products, There are many environemental and arts network actviities, but those who make decisons and profile the city are not thinking outside the Box. Histiory and traditon is wonderful until, it begins to be the excuse to quelch expansion. Watch out for the concept “progess”, so far it is only seen in light of economics.Re-think liveable cities. I think the author here is looking for something else.

  9. The San Antonio donut- tourists in the middle ringed by a cake of suburbs. I think San Antonio is improving the downtown area for residents and and we should continue to do so. I also think it is time to focus energy on some of our Midcentury area neighborhoods (Oak Hills, Dellview, as examples), improve them for area residents and make them destinations for other city residents. San Antonio can promote the growing immigrant population of the Oak Hills/Medical Center Area where there are a number of Indian, Arab, Persian, Southeast Asian mom and pop shops and restaurants popping up and long established in that area that very few San Antonio residents are aware of. We need to look at improving or adding connector streets and bike/walk trails on the North and Northwest sides to improve mobility. Look at a map of those areas, especially between I-10 and 281 just north of 410 and wonder why it takes twenty minutes to get from Callaghan to West Ave, when they are literally a stones throw a way. Other cities have some how incorporated suburban communities as destinations, I think we can do the same to make our city feel more complete as opposed to the donut analogy.

  10. The sad part we try to make this town something it’s not rather than embrace it for it’s own uniqueness … It becomes sad when transplants and visitors come and think San Antonio is one thing and find out it’s another… How about instead of trying to be like others be ourselves… Young artists with money … We seem to be a town like Haven for Hope… I love this town but feel said when it’s too insecure to stand on it’s own

    • Joy,

      The article did not suggest making San Antonio something it’s not. The point of this article is that neither San Antonio’s branding efforts to outsiders nor its focus on tourism are what make the city unique. All the things that I love about the city and hyperlinked to are unique to San Antonio. I suggested that the city focus on insiders too (including transplants like myself who love this city for its uniqueness).

      Also, Haven for Hope is another unique thing about the city that is world-renowned for being an innovative solution to a global problem — city leaders from all over know of it and try to emulate it, but the city’s branding doesn’t tout it and residents who have never been there overlook it as if it is a blight on the city. This is just another example of the systemic problems that prevent innovation, progress and growth in San Antonio.

  11. You are forgetting a key component if San Antonio life. When most people are asked why they move here, the answer usually has something to so with it being a great place to raise a family. NY and SF don’t have that, Denver might but only for those that can afford it. There is a focus here on turning SA into something it is not. The article itself mentions a lot of great things going on in the city. Pearl Brewery, loft, foodies, bikes, all things that show SA is moving in a good direction and improving life for residents. Tourist attractions are just part of SA, and downtown just happens to be where the tourists meet. Also, why the focus on keeping 20 year old graduates from leaving. I’ve always viewed SA as the place they leave, gain experiences, then return to SA to contribute to the city in a positive way.

    • Jorge,

      The focus of this article is not to turn San Antonio into something it’s not. The focus is to build on San Antonio’s potential in order to propel it into everything it can (and will eventually) become. The city’s focus on tourism actually turns it into something it’s not…the city is not just a tourist destination and it’s not just a good place to raise a family. There are only a couple of tourist places and even fewer places to raise a family. No outsiders move to the east side or downtown or south side to raise a family, yet these areas and the people who live there have just as much riding on the city as the “family parts of town.” The city has so much more to offer and by highlighting those aspects of the city we can focus on what truly makes this a great city. By embracing cultural diversity, economic progress, and keeping college students with fresh perspectives that embody changing demographic, cultural, and generational values the city can compete (not try to emulate or become) with other cities that are attracting that kind of population away from San Antonio. A large percentage of college and graduate students (not just 20 year olds) move here for school, do not feel that they fit in, then leave and never come back (not to mention tell others not to move here). College students who are from San Antonio should move away to gain new experiences and perspectives, but they should want to come back because San Antonio is a good place to start a business or get a competitive job or give back to the community, not just because it’s where they’re from and they know it will be just the same as when they left…if they move away and other cities offer more than they ever had in San Antonio why would they come back to contribute in a positive way?

  12. Glad the author has such expansive knowledge of the city after living here a whole 3 years! I’ve lived here my whole life and still have trouble understanding the place…San Antonio is simple but can also be deceptively complex.

  13. Since the city don’t want bike lanes and young people want them, it’s going to stay asleep.

  14. I think rather than say we need centralised efforts v local, we need both perhaps? The mayor/city council works on that branding that brings in corporation for jobs, hopefully focussing on places like Rackspace whose employees all seem delighted to work there. We are a very friendly city, with more & more to offer every year.
    Meanwhile we can also encourage neighborhood development & relations at a grassroots level. There are indeed so many great ‘hoods, with their personalities. By residents working together they can shape their daily space in ways that work for them. There is so much going on around town, not just Southtown & Pearl. It is critical for residents to be a big part of this, whatever is done. This is our space, our lives, our city, our choice. And that is part of what makes a city interesting: I am that visitor who reads about the great drag brunch in the deco district, or awesome little bodega someplace else and checks it put. Developing our ‘hoods is good for all.
    And yes, we desperately need real, pleasant, functional public transport. And safe city wide cycling lanes. That goes without saying.

  15. As a 4th generation San Antonian, I can see both sides. San Antonio has long been the retirement city for military personnel. That is where you get the age difference.

    However, there are a great deal of natives here. I am in my 60’s and I have friends who I attended elementary school with still living here. Some in the same neighborhoods. A lot of our parents worked on the military bases, but were not military.

    In the. Late 60’s the city started to see transplants, those not born and raised here, become council members and city officials. Today, our city government is run by transplants. The city manager, police and other departments are headed up by transplants. It is good to have new blood, but there is a price to be paid.

    We are loosing our internal uniqueness. Cultural traditions are being changed. The physical attractiveness is being challenged.

    One can just look at the Riverwalk or across the street from the Alamo to see how the Disney Epcot effect has entered into our city. Our downtown parks over the years have lost their significance . Milam and Travis Park over the years have lost their meaningful identity.

    At one time, San Antonio was on the path of becoming the closest urban American town that expressed an urban European feel. We began to loose that charm in the 80’s. About the time we had more transplants directing the course of the city.

  16. This author seems to want to turn San Antonio into Dallas or Houston. He goes on about how much he likes it, then about how he wants to change it. I like San Antonio the way it is. I moved here from up north back in the 80s and never had a desire to leave. Is you don’t like it move. Oh, and San Antonio its quite big enough already. We don’t need more people to move here.

    • Lori,

      The article doesn’t suggest turning San Antonio into Dallas or Houston or any other city. I love San Antonio for its uniqueness and the potential that uniqueness holds for San Antonio’s future. Change is inevitable (be it cultural, linguistic, political, generational, religious, age, weather, tastes, preferences, etc.). The point of this article is for San Antonio to embrace its unique characteristics, market those to its resident insiders rather than some fictitious reality to outside tourists, and allow change to happen so that it can be competitive with other cities. If San Antonio stays like it is since you moved here in the 80s, the only change that will happen is the city will get old, outdated, and a place that people leave because there are better places to be.

      Your comment that someone who doesn’t like it here should just move is one of the systemic realities which cause so many people to move away in the first place. That might be okay for you right now, but what about the future of the city?

  17. Great, thoughtful article. We cannot and should not expect to live on tourism alone. I’ve lived here 4 1/2 years now, and hardly ever go downtown, because most of the establishments on the River Walk are unauthentic, pricey, and filled with loud, drunk tourists. There is so much we can do — this city has so much potential — and need to do to make this place a world class city. First of all, I’d fire the team that is working on the branding. Talk about type-casting and stereotyping! I know we’re paying good money for that agency’s services, and I know there are several other agencies in town that would have done a much better job that would probably also have cost less. But the city chose to continue to work with the firm they’ve always worked with, because that’s what this city does. Maybe you should run for Mayor, Buddy. I hear ours is leaving, and I’m not real excited about any of the alternatives out there!

  18. Some of the points made in the article seem a little bogus, but overall, the message is pretty much exactly how I have felt for a long time about San Antonio. Neighborhoods in San Antonio lack character and charm. There are a lot of touristy things that have a lot of charm that appeal to visitors, but for residents living in SA, those things get old quickly and then we are left to ask, “What’s next?”

    The city is so income-segregated and divided by poorly-planned neighborhoods and gated communities. These sprawled out cul-de-sac neighborhoods lack connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods and business so they are uninviting for anyone wanting to walk or bike to destinations.

    Once you get outside of IH 410, most of the commercial is basically just the standard corporate-chain stuff like Walmart, McDonalds, Chilis, Target, Carl’s Jr., etc….not much in the way of originality and uniqueness.

    Of course San Antonio has a lot of positive things working in its favor, but when you really think about it, the city leaves a ton to be desired for young, college-educated professionals. That demographic tends to gravitate more towards walkable/bikeable, urban communities with amenities like shopping, original dining, and entertainment close by. For the urban San Antonio area, it’s extremely difficult to find that.

    • Clayton, I heartily suggest that you spend a little more time in our inner city neighborhoods. We have many charming and character filled ‘hoods. Really. I live in one and have friends in many others. I enjoy supporting the unique businesses that comprise our creative class — one-off restaurants, food trucks, galleries, museums, bars, and other retail establishments. Wouldn’t live in a gated community to save my life. I bike all over downtown. I’ve been all over this country and what we have in this city is very special. I rarely, if ever, frequent the tourist haunts, but you will find me on the River Walk taking advantage of our recent improvements on a regular basis. It is a great and dynamic time to be here and I am happy to be a part of the upward trajectory that we are experiencing. Growing pains? Yes, but keep in mind that the grass isn’t necessarily greener in other pastures. ALL cities have their challenges. This is a fact of human nature. Not picking on you, man. You are just missing out!

  19. I ranted about this yesterday…I really wish the City of San Antonio could have capitalized on the opportunity that the World Cup presents by hosting a big watching party in the heart of downtown. Look at what Chicago did with having a watching party at Grant Park….most of the people that went out there were the same demographic of people the city is trying to attract to SA and it was a very jovial affair. If SA is serious about making the downtown area attractive for youthful types to live, work, and play, then it needs to start advertising and hosting more events like viewing parties for the World Cup or Spurs playoff games…host them at Travis Park or the new civic park once it is complete. Give people a reason to get away from their suburb universe and come experience something downtown and hopefully, people can see for themselves how downtown is still somewhat of an under-appreciated asset.

  20. This article is almost annoying and full of circular reasoning. Esp not bringing Google Fiber lol. What if everyone that wants to change SA is really just insecure in their own life? SA will never be a NY or SF and that is idiotic to try and compare and immulate. SA has been doing an amazing job growing the last few years. SA is a unique place and people should just relax and it.

    • Bakes,

      The article doesn’t suggest that San Antonio can be a NY or SF or that it should EMULATE those cities. The article doesn’t suggest that San Antonio has not done an amazing job growing in the last few years. The article doesn’t say that San Antonio is not a unique place.

      I’m sorry that you missed the larger point of the article because you were so concerned with maintaining your vision of what San Antonio is to you rather than focusing on what it can become for everyone else.

  21. Buddy, nice article.

    One point: implicit in this article is the assumption that the city government is going to change SA for the better. I think that’s a broken assumption.

    Instead, I think it is up to the residents to drive change and it won’t happen over night. Codeup has taught me that small groups of people can really change the city for the better — and it’s not as hard as we all think. (Other examples? The TEDx organizers, Josh and the guys at SoHacks, the KIPP people). Just Do It.

    • Thanks Michael. I agree with your assumption that city government is not going to change SA for the better (at least not right away and not all by itself), but part of driving change is challenging all city leaders (government, business, educators, entrepreneurs, volunteers and residents) to strive to make the beneficial changes they can.

      This article is just one of many ways that I am involved in driving change in San Antonio and I’m glad that residents like yourself and others at Codeup, TEDx, SoHacks, KIPP, City Year, Geekdom, VITA, Haven for Hope, Rackspace, LiteStack, SOLOSHOT, The Rivard Report, SA New Tech, and many, many more are doing their part too!

  22. San Antonio is it’s own unique city. It’s a great place to raise a family and I realized that while growing up here and when I came back after college. There are things for young professionals to do here (if you know about them or work hard to find out about them) but this is definitely no Austin or New York City. Although it’s not my favorite city, I think better efforts include embracing San Antonio for what it offers, because it will never be a NYC, and it shouldn’t be.

  23. If you’re the seventh largest city in the country and are growing rapidly, change has to happen. You cannot embrace being stagnant and maintaining a small town mindset. That’s going to do more harm than good in the long run. It’s that mentality that has pushed economic development away from the center city and caused the sprawl we have right now, and what do we get with that? Traffic congestion on highways and interchanges that are outdated, particularly on the north side bc sprawl doesn’t lend itself to other modes of transportation, like walking, biking, or transit. Then, it just costs more to provide basic utilities to areas built further away…more pipeline, more streets, more electric towers, etc. More toll on the environment overall. The city needs to start taking a different approach to development for sustainability’s sake, and that means building up downtown and exploring light rail and concepts that are foreign to us here in SA. Until then, SA will not be considered a world class city.

    If you want to live somewhere that won’t change much and will be a good place to raise a family (not that the big city can’t be a good place to raise one), small town living is probably what you should gravitate towards.

  24. I cannot believe anyone would choose to leave SA to live in Midland! There are endless events to suit almost anyone’s taste every week here, and most are found in the Express-News. We have lived here 27 years and love downtown still. Quite obviously the city is doing something right or it would be on the decline instead of growing. To compare SA with Chicago or New York is ludicrous! That’s like comparing high heels with sports shoes.

    • Edwinna,

      I personally know several young, educated college graduates that went to school elsewhere, tried to move back here, but who have moved to Midland to take advantage of the oil and gas boom that’s going on there because they couldn’t find work here in San Antonio. I also know graduate students who weren’t from here, moved here for school, tried to find jobs, but they couldn’t find them in San Antonio so they left. St. Mary’s Law School urges its graduates to go to these West Texas towns because there are opportunities there that aren’t here in San Antonio.

      There were no comparisons to Chicago or New York so to suggest that the article does so is just as ludicrous as comparing high heels to sports shoes. By the way, that comparison is not so ludicrous if you realize that high heels and sports shoes are both footwear (which people wear) and Chicago, New York and San Antonio are all cities (where people live)…people like comfortable footwear yet footwear styles change…people like to live in cities yet city life changes. I understand that this is a tenuous comparison, however, the point of that exercise is that we can focus on similarities rather than differences in order to learn something about peoples’ changing preferences to plan for future success. If sports shoe styles change, doesn’t that suggest that high heel styles will also change? Should a high heel maker ignore changing preferences because it believes it has the best-looking shoe? Doesn’t it matter what the consumer wants? If other cities are changing or have something that San Antonio doesn’t what can we learn from them?

      The point is not to imitate other cities but get this city to focus on attracting and keeping young professionals by acknowledging what drives people to other cities across the country while also embracing and highlighting the unique characteristics of San Antonio. We can build on changes that are taking place here as well and in the process help connect the entire city so that everyone can enjoy the uniqueness that San Antonio has to offer while not making people feel that they are missing something they can get from somewhere else.

  25. As someone who had a profound love for this city, there are so many things with this article that I agree with. However, your bullet points that city leaders can borrow is a bit uninformed. There are state laws in Texas that prevent San Antonio from making any money directly from any form of public telecommunication initiative.

    The San Antonio economy will benefit immensely with the onset of an affordable fiber option. It will contribute to keeping youth here to fill the high tech industry that will flock to this city because of the cost savings an affordable gigabit fiber option will provide.

  26. Great article. As someone who moved here just about a year ago, I am already feeling the tug to cleaner pastures. Until local residents stop throwing their trash (by the tons) onto the streets of San Antonio, many people won’t want to live here. No branding efforts are going to force a grown man to put his trash into a trash can. I understand that is not the focus of this particular article, but I feel like you’ve left out some very important reasons why people move here, only to leave a year or so later. I have to pick up Bill Miller bags, water bottles, soda cans, diapers, etc. out of my alley, daily. The alley is lined with lidded trash cans, so . . . . why are people dropping their trash onto the ground? This happens all over the city – much worse in some areas than others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up discarded bottles, cans and plastic Bill Miller cups (why always Bill Miller?) from around the bus stops near my house. The construction crew working on the bungalow behind me drops all their trash on the ground every day. I work from home and can see them doing this from my office window. Why don’t they walk 10′ to the nearest trash can and toss it in there, so that it doesn’t blow all over the place? This baffles me. I’ve heard stories of grown men with whom I’m acquainted smashing beer bottles over the side of the Hayes St. Bridge onto the parking lot, below. These are men with long-term careers here in SA. Family men who’ve grown up here. Why do they do that? Why do so many SA residents litter their own city? Why do they litter their river and their parks? How will re-branding “unteach” a 55 year old man not to smash his beer bottles over the side of a city landmark?

  27. So many bittersweet memories of SA. Lived there from 1975-2010. My three marvelous kids are natives of the city and suburbs. I’d always wanted the city to progress, flourishing in corporate and cosmopolitan fashion. And add to their skyline with much larger facades. But that’s not really San Antonio. Perhaps the city will never be a Houston, Dallas, or Austin in certain respects. Yet SA is uniquely diverse in its own spectacular way. I’m not sure I would desire a complete makeover. The SPURS and the organization have touched my heart for the city, as have their fine attractions. But the people make it culturally special. I think about one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado, who inspired me to write. What an example of a fine citizen/spokesman for San Antonio, and for Jesus Christ my Lord!

  28. I agree about young people leaving the city. As someone who graduated from a business honors program here in town with a major in Accounting and good relevant experience to boot. I don’t find to many opportunities out there to do much of anything. San Antonio is still very much in the friend of a friend mentality for jobs and u less you know someone who knows someone your probably not going to get that interview.

    It really sucks to think that with the experience I have and the connections I’ve made that the best I can hope to find is a $12 part time job for book keeping. Seriously that’s why smart kids are leaving – no real opportunity.

    Aside from a handful of major corporations who are looking for 3 years experience for entry level work. Who else is actually hiring? I just don’t think the jobs exist that people want here.

    Without being a super city basher – because if you’ve met me you know how much I love this city – its tough for me to get excited.

    The bigger problem besides my problems is the build it and they will come attitude. A lot is being done downtown and that is great for the aesthetics but without serious employment downtown, isn’t it a huge gamble?

    • Yes. I have been thinking about that a lot and the issue that keeps popping up is where are all these people going to work.

    • Part of Buddy’s message is that San Antonio is a sleeping giant that may not communicate its options and opportunities well.

      Joe, where do you prefer your live music and how do you find out about what is trending in town?

  29. I would somewhat agree with the points in this article, although I’m not sure an improved ad campaign would convince me to live in SA, were I again a young college graduate at the crossroads of choosing where to start my life, as I was 25 years ago. Back in 1989, I left the city forever 50 days after graduating from UTSA. I wanted to be where the action is, where interesting, important things with global significance happened. I never felt like that was SA.

    If we look at the history of our nation’s oldest cities, critical factors for greatness were: *plenty* of educated, engaged people; entrepreneurial spirit; *plenty* of access to capital; connections to multiple international markets; geographically strategic location; natural resources that support robust economic activity; and leadership in at least one big new idea. Newer cities, like Atlanta and Los Angeles, were less endowed with these, but became magnets due to the success of being the best at one or more good ideas. Same with Chicago. Same with Detroit. What is San Antonio’s big idea? Please tell me it’s not the puffy taco, lol!

    And with this new idea, go big, be first. Take a risk. Streetcars and bike lanes etc. are great–but they are givens in more progressive places.

    In the end, it’s all about opportunity, not “a great place to live.” Clearly, people will live in North Dakota if they can get a good job.

  30. A decent article with good intentions…however, what can a 3 year veteran/transplant tell me about what really needs to happen in SA? And at what level does this plan to happen…here is really what needs to happen: an all-out infiltration of
    the mind, body and soul. We need to show our young people the need to embrace a love for science and mathematics. We need to embrace diversity and foster an atmosphere that celebrates true cultural diversity…not one that only extols the virtues of european settlers and how the coon skin cap trumps the original keeper of the land. San Antonio is so much more than future talent leaving to the silicon valley…or dallas or houston (let alone midland or some fracking small town)…get rich quick only befits a bigger scheme that fosters someone else’s growth

  31. San Antonio risk takers and progress pushers have done a great job, it’s a good start. Its our citizens that will make the difference and from my view point, it’s looking good.

  32. Robert Rivard I left San Antonio in March because I was offered a better job, salary and quality of life in a diverse city that has nothing to prove. I was getting bored with San Antonio’s “underdog” status – and community leaders who do a whole lot of talking and not enough acting. Young professionals will continue to leave San Antonio because they are made to feel unimportant in the grand scheme despite all of the political and economic development buzz words about YPs. I do believe, despite itself, San Antonio will change. I think it’s always been a great city that needs to embrace where it is now and not where it was or where it will be. There are parts about it that I miss, of course. But I can’t imagine I’ll be returning anytime soon.

  33. Wow, I had no idea so many people read The Rivard Report. This is the most comments I’ve seen on an article here! I agree with the need for some change in the way the city sees itself, promotes itself, and operates. The author, in stating what comes to the “world’s” mind when San Antonio is mentioned is wrong, however. Outside the US, hardly anyone knows about the Alamo. IF they have heard of San Antonio, their reference is the Spurs.

    • I have spoken to people in Japan who know what the Alamo is so I don’t quite believe the statement “hardly anyone knows about the Alamo”. Have you ever heard of the Travel Channel? This thing called the Travel Channel has been on for several years now and versions of it are broadcast in different languages so that is one way people find out about us.

    • Dansktex,

      That comment was made semi-tongue-in-cheek, but it’s not “wrong.” It was based on my experiences, which may differ from yours. It was a broad statement made to drive home the point that you agreed on – “there needs to be some change in the way the city sees itself, promotes itself, and operates.” Your suggestion, that many people reference the Spurs, makes the same point: i.e. – the thing that outsiders know and insiders devote their passions to (the Spurs or the Alamo or anything else that tourists know about) aren’t the greatest things about this city. San Antonio has so much more to it than those tourist attractions and we should also focus on promoting the unique aspects in order to bring more than just tourism here.

      Also, like David Lopez, I have spoken with people all over the world who know about the Alamo and know that it’s in San Antonio: Germans, Brazilians, Brits, French, Croatians, Austrians, Spaniards have all made that connection to me…in fact, when I told people from each of these nationalities that I was from Texas, they said something referencing the Alamo, but not the Spurs. Another fact that contradicts your statement that people don’t know about the Alamo is something I just heard today – Phil Collins, the famous singer from England, has a collection of Texas memorabilia that he is donating to Texas and asked that it be placed in the Alamo.

  34. I stopped reading when you implied that young people are moving to Midland leaving beautiful San Antonio behind because of a lack of youth culture, or something. Do you know how many jobs are in Midland and that the median wage is probably around $90,000? Young people need jobs and jobs that pay. Believe me, there is absolutely no other reason that people move to Midland! Certainly, not from a beautiful area like San Antonio.

    • There are jobs here that pay the same if not more than $90,000 – in the oil and gas sector. The problem is most people won’t get out of their comfort zone to work such jobs.

      • There are jobs everywhere that might pay in that range but in San Antonio, those jobs are limited.

        The oil culture in San Antonio is very old school, young people aren’t that interested in the suit and tie everyday attire at NuStar.

        Exxon Mobil made $36.2 Billion last year, do you really think major companies like that are interested in creating jobs (and more expenses for their balance sheets)? Or does it make more sense that they would be trying to automate the greatest amount of their company for financial gain to the shareholders?

  35. On google fiber, we’re already committed. The street car project, I agree it should be extended, not sure where the funding would come from.

    What our city really needs is education from within. But I don’t mean the standard University education, I’m talking about giving some of our residents a world education. In addition to a university education, we need to sponsor individuals to travel the world and learn about it, then come back and improve on our community. This should be a 4 to 5 year program. This doesn’t have to be all young people but also middle aged folks. Giving people who grew up in San Antonio this opportunity will allow it to maintain it’s uniqueness. We have so many talented individuals who are just not given the opportunity to learn what is out there. Some of these students should include those of all major studies from business to archeticure. Education is the key to making our city one that people would love to move to, but also one that is built from within.

  36. Great article!

    Re: “If San Antonio wants to be a leader and actually be more than just a City on the Rise, it needs to change its values and its designs internally, not just the image it creates for outsiders”… San Antonio needs political leadership that is truly for the people, and not the business/developer-real estate elite.

    I believe having — even more — supply-side, trickle down “build-it-and-they-will-come” big-business-favoring economic policy is the last thing SA needs (see articles by Dr. Heywood Sanders on SA streetcar, hotels, civic centers, Alamodome, etc.).

    San Antonio needs policies which encourage a demand-driven economy, starting with an increase in the local minimum wage to a livable wage (to be phased in over three years) — and I advocate that as a small business owner myself in San Antonio. Pre-K for SA is a good start, as well. Education and poverty are, arguably, the two biggest issues in San Antonio.

    Re: Keeping San Antonio lame (our current biggest brand), I’ve always liked that expression in the sense that I find it self-deprecating, funny and unpretentious. However, I do not think it’s good to be lame when it comes to at least two issues: having lower education levels and low voter turnout rates, which, unfortunately, is currently the case in SA.

  37. The article is a fair attempt to offer advice, but I believe if the author did some research he would find that not all his ideas about San Antonio are accurate. For example, Graham Weston, through the 80/20 Foundation, commissioned research that shows San Antonio is experiencing a brain gain–not a brain drain as the author seems to suggest. SOURCE:

  38. People make a cities culture, not branding or policy. People are conservative in this city so only conservative things happen. Only conservative businesses thrive.

  39. The CVB marketing campaigns shown are designed specifically to attract visitors not businesses. The funds the city spends to brand itself as a tourist destination are allocated just for that. The CVB represents San Antonio & helps develop the community through TRAVEL & TOURISM.

  40. There are a number of unsubstantiated claims made in this article, such as the following:

    1. Talented young professionals are “fleeing the city.”
    2. People are moving away from San Antonio because there are better jobs in Midland.
    3. The insinuation that many or most of the people moving to San Antonio are coming here to retire, work in low-paying jobs, or decide to leave after a year.
    4. The suggestion that you generally can’t sell your house in San Antonio for what you paid for it.
    5. Wages that “pale in comparison to wages paid in other cities.”
    6. That San Antonio is somehow different or unique in the sense that “who you know” can sometimes be more important than “what you know.”
    7. Most young people leave the city for places like Austin, Portland, Denver, New York City and San Francisco.

    I believe many of the above statements are factually incorrect. For instance the idea that young people are fleeing San Antonio has already been thoroughly debunked. Statistics show that home prices in San Antonio have had a steady increase. Incomes in San Antonio are somewhat lower than national averages but not dramatically so. Making such statements that are misleading or not believable tends to undermine some of the good points made by the author.

    I would also add that some of the proposals suggested are interesting but not necessarily realistic. A more comprehensive rail system as described would be nice but would probably cost a billion dollars. Where is that money going to come from? Quarterly referendums may merit some discussion but the author should acknowledge that such a practice does not exist in any major city in the United States or perhaps the world and perhaps for good reason.

    In truth, San Antonio has a mixed story to tell. While there is a really positive trajectory in many areas, you’ll find that San Antonio started out behind where some other cities have been (in educational attainment for instances). It has been this way for decades if not longer. There are reasons for this that have nothing to do with city leadership or branding. I would call this the legacy of history. There is no sense fighting or denying that history. As to the idea that “San Antonio’s landscape is slowly changing, but only to those who have been here and can notice the changes,” I would have to heartily disagree. In the few years I’ve been in San Antonio, I’ve seen a pretty fundamental transformation of many parts of the inner city with lots of other changes underway or on the way.

    The fact that many young people move from San Antonio to other cities is often misinterpreted. If you were to go to any other city (Austin, Boston, New York, San Francisco, take your pick) you would find the exact same thing. Young people move…a lot…everywhere. Some move away, some move here. There is no mass exodus.

    • Phil,

      Each claim that I made is based off my experience around talented young professionals in and from San Antonio. None of the comments are unsubstantiated, but if you have evidence that they are then you should link to them so readers get a more comprehensive understanding of your beliefs.

      1. Most of the law students I attended St. Mary’s with that I know personally have “fled” the city. I have been told that I am over-qualified and should seek opportunities in other cities. A career counselor at Trinity wrote in an email that she sees many graduates leaving San Antonio for other cities. I just got an email from a friend who served in the Marines and has a graduate degree and great work experience, tried to find a job here and couldn’t, got offered a job in LA and just left for there. There are several articles on this site that reference the same thing. In fact, the most popular article of all time on this site suggests just that. See –

      2. I know people from San Antonio who left for college, came back to get a job but couldn’t, and moved to Midland because that’s where they found jobs.

      3. Look around. A – I know many retirees who have moved here; B – I see a lot of people working at restaurants, bars, HEB, lawn maintenance, hotels, trash clean-up, non-profits, etc.; C – see the article mentioned in point 1.

      4. I have a friend who is dealing with this issue right now. Also, part of my work deals with the foreclosure market here in San Antonio so I have witnessed this personally over the past 3 years.

      5. From the US Department of Labor – “Workers in the San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $19.88 in May 2013, about 11 percent below the nationwide average of $22.33, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Stanley W. Suchman noted that, after testing for statistical significance, 17 of 22 major occupational groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including construction and extraction; personal care and service; and protective service. No major occupational group in the local area had wages that were significantly above their respective national averages.”

      6. This comment was made from my personal experience and has been reiterated by several commenters to this article, other people that I know who aren’t from here, and even by people who are from here.

      7. See my comment in point 1.

      • Buddy,

        Thanks for your response. It seemed to me that you were trying to make broader points than those related to your personal experience and that is where my objections lie. In my view, trying to generalize about a region of over two million persons based upon a few people’s limited experience in a particular stage of your life is problematic. You certainly have a perspective based on your experience and observations that is worth hearing, but I would caution against so readily drawing broader conclusions from your personal experience. As someone with a little more life experience, I can tell you that I’ve been in a similar situation to the ones you describe and seen similar things to what you are seeing now…in other cities.

        My reason for responding to your article is because I think it paints a very negative view of San Antonio that is inaccurate, or at the very least, incomplete. As someone invested in the future of this city and who believes that the city has a bright future if the right decisions are made, I felt compelled to try to correct things that I thought were wrong. I appreciate that you have the same goals in mind and my hope would be that you and others that feel similarly might step back from your own specific experience, see the broader life and economic issues at play, and not “flee” from San Antonio based upon the perceptions you recounted in your article.

        To your specific points, I would offer the following observations:

        1. It is common knowledge that entry-level legal jobs have been difficult to find for the past few years just about everywhere from coast-to-coast. This has been written about extensively and I assume you are familiar with phenomenon. Likewise, I wonder what percentage of UT law graduates you think stay in Austin versus “flee” to other cities like Houston, Dallas, New York, etc.? Based upon my own life experience in cities beyond San Antonio, I can tell you that a large percentage of undergraduates and graduate students at all schools tend to go to other cities after graduation. I don’t know whether a larger percentage stays or leaves Trinity, UTSA, St. Mary’s or any of the other schools in San Antonio versus other schools in other cities, but neither do you. As someone else already has, I would refer you to this link, which discusses a demographic study that found that “[u]nlike much of the rest of the country, San Antonio is rapidly gaining 25-plus-year-olds with college educations and it is happening fast.” I guess it is theoretically possible that nearly 100% of the “talented” local college graduates are “fleeing” San Antonio only to get replaced by “untalented” college graduates from other parts of the county, but I tend to doubt it. As I said in my prior comment, I think there is a movement back and forth that is both natural and desirable and also entirely consistent with what you would find in other cities. On balance, however, more are moving here than moving away. That is a statistical fact.

        2. OK, you know people who moved to Midland for a job. I also know people who have moved from Austin to San Antonio for a job and from California, New York and Denver to San Antonio for a job. Does this prove anything of substance or that “young people would rather live in San Antonio” than Austin or New York? You have to look at larger data sets than one person among two million to make meaningful conclusions. Undoubtedly, some young people would rather live in Midland than San Antonio. There is nothing wrong with that. Likewise, many young people would rather like in San Antonio than New York. Likewise, many old people would rather like in New York than San Antonio. Of course, it would be a problem if most or all young people didn’t want to live in San Antonio, but the actual statistical facts show that to be an invalid perception.

        3. I don’t see how “looking around” says anything about the people moving to San Antonio versus the people already here. Likewise, I can look around in any city and see people doing all of the things you cited. There are statistics that show the sectors of the economy in San Antonio that exceed or fall short of national averages. Generally, these show that San Antonio has a balanced, diversified economy. There is a desire to get more of the higher-paying, higher skill jobs where San Antonio has historically lagged behind many of cities, but the gross generalizations you suggest can’t be supported by simply “looking around” without even offering any context for comparisons. Likewise, the important issue is the trajectory of change. If you care to research the issue, I think you would find that the long and short-term trends in San Antonio have been towards higher skill and higher wage jobs relative to what we have had in the past. Does this mean that San Antonio is now considered a knowledge center when compared to places like Austin or San Francisco? Of course not. But this also doesn’t mean that the people moving here are basically just dead-weight either. To the contrary, I think you would find that the “transplants” to the city over recent years are increasing the skill and talent level locally, which isn’t surprising considering that the transplants are moving here from parts of the country that have historically had higher levels of educational attainment.

        4. Again, the fact that there are some people who have this problem proves nothing as a general matter. Some people in every city in the world are going to have this problem from time-to-time. Factually, however, home price averages in San Antonio are at an all-time high. (See ) There has also been a steady increase in San Antonio since the recession and they also dropped much less during the recession than is almost anywhere else in the country. If someone has trouble selling their house in San Antonio today, I would submit to you that it has nothing to do with the overall local economy or housing market. Maybe they paid too much or bought in the wrong neighborhood?

        5. If this is what you meant by “pales” in comparison, then I guess I’ll hand this one to you. I did acknowledge that wages were somewhat lower. I would have guessed about 5-10%. On the other hand, the cost of living in in San Antonio is also 12% lower than the national average. (See From my perspective, the lower cost of living tends to negate the lower wage argument. I understand it isn’t quite that simple, but if one considers both data points, I think it is very hard to argue that someone is going to have to sacrifice a lot in terms of material lifestyle if they choose to live in San Antonio versus some other city. By comparison, try considering the economics of trying to afford to buy a house of condo in the New York metropolitan region sometime on the higher average salaries paid there.

        6. Again, this is a sentiment I’ve heard expressed in lots of cities all across the county. You also hear the same sentiment expressed internationally, where I think the problem is generally much worse. I agree that this is an issue in San Antonio, probably more than in some other cities and generally a drag on the local economy and innovation in particular, but it is by no means the worst place in terms of those issues or unique in this fashion.

  41. San Antonio will always be a top tourist destination that designation will never change. This article lost some merit after the Midland, Texas comment. Nothing against Midland, but you can’t compare the net migration of new residents to this city compared to Midland, Texas,(Midland does have the highest per capita in the state) population 120k. San Antonio is growing equally as fast as Austin and has the same median age as Austin, Tx with a comparable per capita income. San Antonio also had the highest increase of college grads between 2007 and 2012 in the nation, nearly 80,000 new college grads and to say they are leaving for other places is not entirely true. San Antonio has one of the largest concentrations of military personnel in the country along with a large amount of military retirees but, you can’t say it attracts mostly retirees.

    San Antonio has major industries and a diverse economy complemented by a low cost of living which attracts new college grads. San Antonio also has a growing creative class industry that is equal in size to Austin’s at about 4.5 billion dollars annually. San Antonio is a white collar city, its major industries are Healthcare-Biomedicine, Finance-Insurance, Energy hub-oil-gas, Government, Education, Technology, and major blue collar industries , Manufacturing and Aerospace. San Antonio has 50 aerospace companies, an international inland logistics port. In 2004, the finance industry the largest industry in the city had a median income of over 52K, that was ten years ago. San Antonio is not a low wage town anymore. If you point out the service industry which would be a lower pay scale in any city.

    I just don’t see the other Texas cities having that much more to offer if anything at all for their respectable sizes. San Antonio and all Texas is growing by leaps and bounds and all the major cities have a lot to offer transplants as well as locals. Comparing San Antonio to other cities around the nation, all you have to do is look at all the national media attention S.A. gets for its business climate and economy. Raising San Antonio’s higher Education attainment is one of San Antonio’s primary goals and it seems to be doing well so far, the college attainment has jumped some percentage points, again, it had the highest increase in the nation for new college grads. All cities have room for improvement in different areas, S.A. is no different.

  42. I have lived now in satx over fifty years now and most landmarks have been either destroyed or disrupted by city out of state with no ties to the history of satx and youthful politicians who does not care about places like the old keda radio building and the old CHANNEL41 building need i say more in a good book I’ve read says plain to not remove the things markers buildings landmarks of our forfathers

  43. San Antonio is a progressive city just as the other Texas cities, it’s no different . It just happens to also be a city with its own brand, the Riverwalk, alamo, etc, which makes it unique and one of the most visited cities in North America.
    This article is wide off the mark, the Convention & visitors bureau is responsible for selling San Antonio’s brand is serving its purpose to help attract visitors to the Alamo City. There are other organizations that sell San Antonio as a economic center for business development.

    It is ridiculous to say San Antonio only sells itself as a place for magaritas and roller coaster rides. Pretty stupid to think otherwise! And the same old hyperbole that San Antonio is overshadowed by the other big Texas cities has become asinine. How does Austin overshadow S.A.? They both have their strenghts. Austin is known for being a tech hub, an industry that is a $ 20 billion dollar industry for Austin, and Austin’s largest. S.A’s largest industry is Healthcare/Biomedicine and is a $35 billion dollar industry for S.A. San Antonio is also an Energy hub, home to 3 F500 Oil companies, Ford shale, and is also a leader for clean energy technology in Texas.

    San Antonio’s tech industry is a$15 billion dollar economic driver centered around cyber security and home to more than 100 cyber security firms. San Antonio is home to the Alamo, Riverwalk, world heritage sites, puffy tacos, the birthplace of the U.S. airforce, WiFi technology was also developed and implemented in the Alamo City and so, so much more.

    Thank you, I enjoy these articles that lean more towards the negative side, it helps me become more abreast about San Antonio and learning more of what makes this city great.

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