SAN ANTONIO – Ten years ago, after five public meetings and the input of more than 6,000 San Antonians, the Alamo City compiled a list of issues they wanted to see maintained or improved by the end of the decade.
The issues ranged from arts and culture, transportation, education, and economic competitiveness.
The non-profit organization SA 2020 was formed to keep San Antonio on track to meet these goals.
With the new year in full swing, how much progress has the city made in the last decade?
“I think the state of San Antonio is one that is showing incremental progress - 72% of the indicators we currently track are moving in the right direction. So we’re doing better today than we were in 2010 when we started,” SA 2020 CEO and President Molly Cox said.
SA 2020 works with more than 160 organizations across various sectors of the community to actively work to make these goals a reality.
“There’s something very powerful, right, about a community vision that was written by humans who live here, then being the agenda by which policymakers create policy or public institutions, invest dollars or non-profits, shift the way that they’re doing their programming,” Cox said.
One of the mantras of the non-profit is that “data is important but it doesn’t tell the full story." That being said, three of the worst data points for the city revolved around transportation: walkability, commute time and miles traveled in a vehicle.
“For us, we can consistently say our community said it wanted more walkable neighborhoods. Our community said it wanted fewer miles traveled. Our community said they wanted to reduce commute times and I think the challenge on that is there isn’t a buckshot, right?” Cox said.
Another negative part of the findings was the decline in professional certificates.
The latest data on the SA 2020 database shows a 110% movement in the wrong direction and that could have huge implications on our economic competitiveness, bringing more businesses and jobs to town.
“Companies are looking at our educational attainment rates or our professional certification completion and saying, ‘We don’t have the talent here.’ And we would say the talent is here. We’re not preparing them, right? What are we doing in an effort to flip the script again and say, ‘Ah, the talent is here,’" Cox said.
One step toward improving those numbers is the recent increase in scholarly initiatives.
“So things like Alamo Promise or UTSA’s Bold Promise or Texas and San Antonio’s work with the South Side school districts for Aspire give us very targeted approaches to making sure that students are not only college ready, but then enroll in college and then get through college so that they are then contributing not only to their own families and their own households, but to our community at large,” Cox said.
So what’s next for SA 2020?
They are taking this year to increase community engagement and they want to hear from you - the public.
“Based on those nearly 70 ambassadors and our partners with over 160 multi-sector institutions, we think we can reach 162,850 people,” Cox said.
It’s as easy as going on the website and taking a five-minute survey.
As of today, over 1,500 surveys are completed. Education and transportation are two of the most popular topics.
So as we move into the next decade, what’s the biggest takeaway?
“The biggest takeaway is that when you work together towards common goals, positive community change happens," Cox said. “We have literally proved that with 10 years worth of information."