Pandemic slows, but can’t stop, growth of ‘mega region’ between San Antonio and Austin

Photo Courtesy: San Antonio Business Journal. (SABJ)

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between the San Antonio Business Journal and KSAT.

New Braunfels and San Marcos, the two largest cities along the Interstate 35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin, continue to pursue new opportunities for economic development in the midst of a pandemic — each with a different strategy and focus.

What they have in common is a confidence that the region is poised to leverage its growth before Covid-19 into significant gains in corporate recruitment.

The top economic development officials in the two cities shared that outlook on Sept. 3 during the 2020 Austin-San Antonio Growth Summit, an annual event produced by the San Antonio Business Journal and Austin Business Journal and streamed live online this year in lieu of an in-person event.

“All the pieces are in place for success here,” Michael Meek, executive director of the New Braunfels Economic Development Foundation, told the summit audience. “Once the traveling restrictions are lifted [from Covid], we have several companies that are ready to break ground or make announcements.”

New Braunfels is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. It’s the seat for Comal County, which has seen its population increase from fewer than 109,000 people in 2010 to nearly 157,000 as of 2019. And that growth is attracting commercial and residential development.

Meek cited Veramendi, a 2,500-acre, multi-use, master-planned development along the city’s northwest boundary. It has 5,000 home sites, 450 acres of park land, and will complement the incoming commercial parts of the development, he said.

In 2019, an overwhelming majority of New Braunfels voters approved a $117 million bond package that included more than $44 million for transportation and infrastructure improvements. That investment will likely attract more interest from businesses looking to expand or move.

Read more on what’s happening in San Marcos  and more Austin-San Antonio Growth Summit coverage at the San Antonio Business Journal.