Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is San Antonio Stuck In The Archaic 20th Century?

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 9:48 AM

click image We always hoped the 21st century would have flying cars. - WIKIMEDIA
  • Wikimedia
  • We always hoped the 21st century would have flying cars.

In Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff's "State of County" address, he warned that the Alamo City is slipping behind other cities that have embraced the brave new — and ever expanding — tech-economy world.

"Successful 21st century cities will be judged by their willingness and ability to enter into this new economy that is defined by these innovative and often disruptive technologies," Wolff told the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce last week. "But we are slipping behind other cities in our efforts to embrace this new emerging tech industry. We need to pick up our pace or we will be eclipsed."

As an example, Wolff looks north, to Austin.

"We only need to look up I-35 to see we are not keeping pace with the emerging tech economy. Austin has embraced Uber, Lyft, and Google Fiber," he said.

In San Antonio, Uber and Lyft have allegedly ceased operations in response to what they say are the most strict local regulations for transportation network companies in the country. And San Antonio didn't get chosen for Google Fiber, either, though the company says the Alamo City is still in the running.

However, according to Wolff, San Antonio has the capacity to mitigate being eclipsed by other cities.

Last week, Wolff was at Lew Moorman's Tech Bloc kickoff event along with 900 tech industry leaders.

"Lew Moorman's speech at Tech Bloc's rally emphasized the importance of Uber and Lyft, improving livability, new economic development policies, and marketing of the city's strength in emerging technology," Wolff said. "There was electricity in the room and an excitement I have not seen before. New leadership is stepping up to push our city forward. If we will step up and support them we could become a thriving innovative tech city."

Moorman is a consultant for Rackspace and used to be the Windcrest-based company's president. And in case you forgot, Windcrest allows Uber to operate as do several smaller cities in Bexar County.

In Wolff's speech — a transcript is provided below — he lays out what he calls the "innovator table," which includes a host of techie types from major San Antonio companies, and seven pathways for San Antonio to become a 21st century city.

The "innovator table" identified university research and tech education; venture capital and support for start-up tech companies; livability; skilled training' new incentive programs for tech companies; targeting private sector cyber firms to locate in SA; and building on technological strengths of the Alamo City's existing health care industry as the seven pathways to tech success.

"Local government, academia, and the private sector must come together to chart out the seven pathways to change," Wolff said. "We must create a collaborative community with the common goal of making San Antonio and greater Bexar County the next big tech community."

Read the full speech here:

2015 North Chamber Speech - Final


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