By Carol Radice
From the May/June 2022 Issue
Once concentrated in just a few areas of the country, in the past several years tech hubs have begun popping up in new and unexpected places, including San Antonio, Texas.
A report published by the Brookings Institution found remote work opportunities which accelerated during the pandemic, were one of the reasons areas like San Antonio saw a rise in the number of tech jobs. Reviewing the events of the past two years, Mark Muro and Yang You, the Brookings report’s authors, noted that for the first-time tech job employment growth increased in some midsized and smaller markets in the U.S., thanks in part to the lower cost of living and quality of life appeal these areas often offer.
More recent data collected by Brookings and other researchers indicates tech jobs will likely continue to decentralize away from the larger metro tech hubs into a wider set of places, which bodes well for San Antonio and others.
While it’s true the pandemic may have played a role, a number of San Antonio-based groups, including greater:SATX Regional Economic Partnership, have been actively working both behind and in front of the scenes to attract tech companies to the region and train its workforce.
Business Facilities recently sat down with Sarah Carabias Rush, the group’s Chief Economic Development Officer, to learn more about the burgeoning tech industry in San Antonio and the future implications for the Lone Star State.
BF: We know that the pandemic was the catalyst for growth in the tech sector in San Antonio. Is there reason to believe this is the beginning of a long-term trend?
SCR: In short, yes. I believe that the momentum building in the tech sector in San Antonio is here to stay. The market has flown under the radar while growth has exploded just to the north in Austin. All the while, talented entrepreneurs, university leaders, researchers, innovators, and well-established firms have been building and growing a tech community that is connected and armed for continued growth. Nationally, talent continues to evaluate not only their employers of choice as evidenced by the Great Resignation, but also evaluating their lifestyle of choice. San Antonio is perfectly positioned for, and has already benefited from, that trend. Why? The lifestyle, particularly for entrepreneurs and fast-growth companies tap into a kind of authenticity that is truly unique: community-minded, grit, hustle mentality, and a powerful sense of opportunity. As the brand recognition grows, so too will San Antonio’s tech growth.
BF: What factors are in place to attract more tech jobs to the region?
SCR: greater:SATX has focused on supporting the continued development and growth of the regional tech sector. Established headquarters such as USAA, Rackspace, and H-E-B employ a large share of the region’s workforce, while Geekdom, Tech Bloc, and other industry-led support organizations bolster the startup ecosystem. The pipeline of companies that greater:SATX is actively working with to relocate or expand in the San Antonio region is growing, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
Directly for Information Technology (IT) and Cyber:
- 22% of the companies in our pipeline are classified as IT and cyber (that’s up from 13% in April 2021).
- 11% of the jobs in our pipeline are in IT and cyber.
- Nearly 47% of the high-wage jobs in the pipeline of active projects come from IT and cyber operations.
Axios recently highlighted our region’s strong tech worker in-migration in a recent newsletter, citing a 24% change in San Antonio’s tech workforce migration. This was the third-highest percent change in tech worker migration in the U.S. The data set used metro areas’ inflow-outflow ratio based on LinkedIn users’ profile location changes from Feb. 2021 to Jan. 2022 versus Feb. 2020 to Jan. 2021.
With the rise in remote work, the San Antonio region is well-positioned to continue welcoming tech workers who want to live in a place with greater room for growth and economic opportunity. And for employers responding to the growth in remote work, we’ve seen some tech companies take a remote-first approach to enter the San Antonio market. Rover.com is a great example that found success starting with hiring remotely in San Antonio. And, greater:SATX is supporting their team to find the right location to office the 100 employees they’re hiring in the region this year.
BF: What qualities will continue to make San Antonio a region of choice for the tech industry?
SCR: Tech is embedded across every type of business. For future tech growth in our state, one of our greatest strengths is our people. In recent years, the San Antonio region has made an unprecedented investment in developing our people and quality of place to support continued growth jobs within our target industries. The greater San Antonio region has a rapidly growing population and a workforce development ecosystem aligned to meet company hiring needs today and into the future.
One example: the University of Texas at San Antonio has long been recognized as a leader in cybersecurity, cloud computing, and analytics with the top cybersecurity undergraduate degree program in the country. UTSA’s investment in its new School of Data Science will further position the region to connect technology companies in greater San Antonio with talent. UTSA anticipates training 6,500 at the new School of Data Science starting this fall. San Antonio is attracting tech workers from across the U.S. while also investing in and scaling education programs to train San Antonians for in-demand careers.
Do you work for a company in a high-growth sector, or are you an economic developer looking to attract these companies to your community? If so, you don’t want to miss LiveXchange Emerging Industries, taking place November 16-18 in Orlando, FL. Click here to learn more.