SAN ANTONIO – In 1995, Kelly Air Force Base and all the people who relied on it were informed of life-changing news: KAFB was set to close its base for good.
From that year to 2001, the Special Redevelopment Authority was created, known today as Port San Antonio.
The 1,900 acres of land were re-purposed with one central goal in mind: Maintain and grow jobs for our community. Two decades later, Port San Antonio is doing just that.
The campus is a champion of economic development, innovation, and technology.
“What is going on with artificial intelligence? What’s going on with robotics? What’s going on with lasers and the application into energy and security? Well, that’s all being developed here in San Antonio,” Port San Antonio CEO, Jim Perschbach said.
Port San Antonio has brought in more than 3,500 new jobs, leasing out more than 2,000,000-square-feet of space.
Right now, we have 14,000 people working on the property and the campus generates over $5 billion in annual economic activity.
Perschbach said San Antonio is a primary destination for these new and advanced technologies.
“What we have in San Antonio is something that doesn’t exist many places in the world - it’s the ability to have people who understand some of these new and exciting technologies and the people who understand the world as it is today,” Perschbach said. “San Antonio, with the pieces that we have here today, and particularly what we have in Port San Antonio, is going to make this not the next Silicon Valley. It’s going to make it the next San Antonio - the center and the shorthand for those solutions."
Job creation and short-term investments aren’t the only prize points of the Alamo City - it’s also the local school outreach and the long-term plan.
The San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology, along with the collaboration with UTSA and other local students, work to ensure that SA isn’t just a place that people want to come and work, but it is also a place people want to stay.
“I’ll tell you what people are really looking for these days - it’s talent. It’s that next generation of talent, and the product that we’re most excited about is the people. It’s about connecting people with opportunities," Perschbach said.
From start-ups like Reckon Point to big worldwide brands like Boeing, Port SA works to change the game. Now, their vision is out of this world.
“This is high school kids. This is middle school kids with almost $2 million. I think a little over $2 million in funding from NASA, and the next stage is to scale it up and scale it up. But in a couple of years when we’re building these habitats up on the moon, it’s going to be people in San Antonio who developed that technology,” Perschbach said.
Perschbach said development on the moon in the next few years is a real possibility and San Antonio could play a big role.
“Port SA is going to have a big hand in development on the moon in the next couple of years... When we get up there, well, you’re going to need robotics. What’s being done on this campus, Will? We’re figuring out ways to make robots where they can see and think and feel,” Perschbach said.
San Antonio is a city on the rise in regards to population and if the Port San Antonio CEO is correct, it’ll be a city on the rise with name recognition across the world.
“They’re going to think of San Antonio as the place where these new technologies are being integrated 10 years from now."