A recently released study indicates that the San Antonio area’s information technology industry continues to grow with an annual economic effect of nearly $11 billion and a growing number of businesses and employees in the private and public sectors.
The economics report on the tech industry was authored by renowned Trinity University professors Richard Butler and Mary Stefl, and published by a local advocacy organization. Technical block and economic development agency Port San Antonio.
Tech Bloc officials and industry members gathered June 29 at the Tech Port Center and Arena to reveal key findings from the reportjoined by Port San Antonio leaders Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
Tech Bloc CEO David Heard said this economic study — roughly three years in the making — is the first attempt in nearly a decade to gauge the size and economic power of San Antonio’s tech industry.
“This is the first effort to categorize and characterize the workforce and its impact on the local economy,” Heard said.
Heard said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed where and how various types of professionals, including tech workers, do their jobs.
But, despite the pandemic, the local information technology sector continues to grow, Heard said, adding that the study’s findings help provide clear and consistent data that the industry needs to guide policies and investments.
According to the report, the economic impact of the local IT industry has increased by 27% since 2010 and its size has more than tripled since 2000.
Another highlight of the report is that the number of local IT companies increased from 1,095 in 2015 to 1,491 in 2020, an increase of 36.16%. Approximately 48,000 IT professionals work in the local private and public technology economic sectors.
Both Wolff and Nirenberg praised local tech industry leaders, saying older, locally-based companies such as Data point and rack space and groups such as Tech Bloc have spent years developing a local tech workforce as well as businesses and institutions that can maintain and strengthen a stable tech ecosystem across the city.
“We believe in entrepreneurship. We believe in business startups,” Wolff said, adding that San Antonio has become a destination for tech startups.
Wolff referred to the growth of San Antonio’s auto manufacturing sector, with the presence of Toyota Tundra Pickup Assembly Plant and the surrounding service and parts suppliers and the arrival of the manufacturer Navistarboth on the south side.
Wolff also expressed his confidence in the iconic DeLorean Motor Co. and its announced stimulus plans that call for a global headquarters in Port San Antonio.
Wolff said it’s natural for people to compare San Antonio’s tech economy with its counterparts in places like Austin.
“Keep watching us. We may not be a shooting star, but we are a guiding star,” Wolff said.
Nirenberg said the growing number of various technology companies, the arrival of ride-sharing companies, and the recent opening of Tech Port Center and Arena in Port San Antonio are just a few examples of San Antonio’s booming tech economy.
“This facility is emblematic of the spotlight this city is in as a world-class center of innovation,” Nirenberg said of the Tech Port Center and Arena, which offers many functions including event space, online meeting and game.
Nirenberg also cited San Antonio’s heavy military presence and how that and other federal agencies have helped expand the local cybersecurity industry.
The report says about 16,400 IT professionals are employed by local defense, security and other federal entities, but like the military and some other federal agencies generally keep their workforce information and other classified data sets, the number of 16,400 is likely a conservative estimate, the speakers said. like Will Garrett, an executive in Port San Antonio.
In addition, the University of Texas at San Antonio’s plan to open a School of Data Science— among other local higher education initiatives — is helping to develop a slew of local tech-focused talent with San Antonio tech companies aiming to keep that talent here in town, Nirenberg said.
“When you hear the data today, don’t think about where we are. Think about where we are going and what it takes to get there,” he added.
Tech Port Center and Arena also has a local affiliate office in Austin capital plant, a coworking space for startups.
Joshua Baer, founder and CEO of Capital Factory, said his organization strives to treat all of Texas as a prime location for tech-focused startups. He praised the San Antonio government and industry leaders for their efforts to promote and grow the local tech economy.
“That’s why San Antonio is such a vital part of this. Being the seventh largest city [in the United States] and with so much talent, he has so much to offer the whole state and what we do,” Baer said.
Another key finding from the report is that the average annual salary for local IT employees was $88,017, the highest average salary of any target industry in San Antonio. The average economy-wide salary in San Antonio was $54,940 in 2020.
Adriana Rocha Garcia, council member for District 4, which represents the Port San Antonio community, said such IT salaries can help increase socio-economic opportunities for Southwest voters and local residents. of the whole city.
“Our residents deserve high salaries and plenty of job opportunities, and the IT industry is one of those areas worth investing in and talking about its immense benefits,” said Rocha Garcia.
The report points to specific technology sectors of local labor and economic strength, including cybersecurity; Cloud computing; retail/digital commerce; fintech services and compliance; and software as a service, or software licensing and service provision.
Butler said IT professionals make up 2% of San Antonio’s total workforce, and while that may seem like a tiny number, it holds a lot of potential to have a bigger effect on the whole. of the local economy.
“If we could grow those jobs, it would mean huge prosperity for San Antonio,” Butler said.
Heard said San Antonio also benefits from a number of centers with a high concentration of IT professionals and job opportunities throughout the city. He said Port San Antonio and its number of federal, military and local public and private businesses and organizations have the largest number of IT workers in the city.
According to Heard, the US 281 North Corridor between the 410 Loop and the 1604 Loop has the second highest concentration of IT professionals and businesses in the city. Other such hubs exist around Windcrest-based Rackspace, South Texas Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, UTSA’s North Side main campus, downtown/downtown- city, Stone Oak and Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Heard said.
“It’s really a story of technological growth driven by convenience, urban accessibility and transportation,” Heard said.
Heard said the future of work is a bit unknown given the number of professionals displaced by the pandemic, including those who can work from home.
Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf said the economic analysis of the technology speaks positively to San Antonio’s current and future growth.
“We want more tech jobs; we want more technology companies; we want more technology investment; and we all want to do our part to make it happen,” he said.