SAN ANTONIO – In the middle of a crowded news conference, she sits in the front row, but is usually behind the scenes. But a decision about Amazon and the city’s attempt to woo it to the Alamo City changed that.
Jenna Saucedo-Herrera was thrust into the spotlight after the city of San Antonio and Bexar County decided not to make a formal proposal for Amazon's second headquarters.
She started with the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation almost 16 months ago, a South Texas native, whose job is to sell San Antonio.
"Really traveling around the world, getting to tell the story of my hometown, it's just been an incredible experience," Saucedo-Herrera said.
She is in on every step, from pitching a vision to cutting the ribbon, and on this day it’s the grand opening of the latest San Antonio success story in brick and mortar and people and paychecks.
GM Financial's new customer service center is located near Sea World. It opened with 220 employees but is expected to grow to 700. Shortly after the scissors did its work on the ribbon, Saucedo-Herrera talked about hers as president and CEO of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.
"Each and every day, the opportunity to provide jobs for our local community, again to my family and friends, to your family and friends, that is a once-in-a-lifetime unique experience. It’s been great," Saucedo-Herrera said.
SPRIESTER SESSIONS: Jenna Saucedo-Herrera
There is also a “covert” aspect of what she does.
Saucedo-Herrera said her job is very confidential and competitive -- so much so, most of the time they don't know the real name of the company or the people they're pitching to. They get code names; for instance, GM Financial was referred to as “Project Snowflake.”
There have been bumps in the road, Saucedo-Herrera, along with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, decided not to give a proposal or incentives to lure Amazon’s second headquarters; some have been critical on seemingly passing on 50,000 high-paying jobs.
"Every decision is difficult, but that decision, I would stand behind it and would make that decision again with our partners at the city, the county and private sector resources, What we did is not close the door on Amazon. What we tried to do is be very creative in our response, because we wanted to get on their radar," she said.
A “radar” she insists San Antonio is getting on more and more. GM Financial, Hulu and TJX, the parent company of TJ Maxx and Home Goods, all recently chose the Alamo City and she's confident there are more to come.
"The robust pipeline that we have, the size and scale of the projects we're working, that's because the city of San Antonio is transforming, the product that we're selling is evolving in front of our eyes, and we will capitalize on those opportunities," Saucedo-Herrera said.