Leading SA: Interim President & CEO of SA Chamber of Commerce discusses possible government shutdown, local economy

Senate passed a spending bill Saturday night, temporarily averting a government shutdown for at least 45 days

SAN ANTONIO – Amid widespread concern over the possibility of a government shutdown, we heard from numerous local leaders and organizations, including the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

Dave Petersen, Interim President and CEO of the chamber, joined Leading SA to discuss the possibility of a shutdown and our local economy.

Although the government shutdown was temporarily averted for at least the next 45 days, no permanent spending package has been approved.

In the case of a shutdown, Petersen detailed a chain reaction from those who would be most affected in San Antonio, specifically speaking on servicewomen and men.

“Uncertainty in what people will be paid or not, you know, will not help that situation. And for those that are actively serving, you know, that uncertainty means, you know, stockpile all your resources, say things. So that means less shopping and less engagement in the community. So, you know, we would strongly encourage Congress to work more quickly and not wait for the deadline to get this done,” Petersen said.

As for San Antonio’s mindset, Petersen described optimism from businesses within the city.

“We hear a lot of optimism. We have cautious optimism. You know, some of the real headaches of the past are being dealt with, maybe not solved, but being dealt with. Things like supply chains, things like workforce are being worked, and there are improvements in those spaces. But, you know, the high-interest rate condition we’re in and forecast to stay in for a while has people thinking, well, tax relief came out of the legislature this year. There’s a kind of a wait-and-see approach to that from a lot of people. So but there’s optimism that, you know, that business is picking back up, that the pandemic is in the rearview mirror,” Petersen said.

Petersen also shared local businesses’ feedback as they lean on the chamber, giving an inside look at the business landscape.

“Some of them told us, particularly in the retail space, that sales have been off this summer and it can be a combination of things. You know, some speculation revolves around, you know, the high temperatures kept people inside. So bars, restaurants, particularly those that thrive in outside areas, you know, suffered from that,” he said.

Petersen noted how much of the public has been reassessing their spending, especially as student loans resume repayment this October.

“Then again, the general economy has people kind of assessing and, you know, do I spend my money now or do I try to hold on to it? And, you know, things like student loan repayment beginning probably has people thinking about that income and that that revenue that they’ve got to put towards that instead of having discretionary income. So there’s there’s a lot of factors in play,” Petersen said.

With a cautious, optimistic attitude, Petersen gave more information on the growth San Antonio will see in the next year.

“We see the great work that’s going on with the airport. We heard the announcement that our good friends of Greater SATX, Visit San Antonio, and the airport put together about the European flight. We have heard very optimistic words from Senator Cruz on a 15-year-plus effort we’ve had with Congress to try to get a direct flight into Washington National. We’re hearing a lot of development at Brooks, at the airport, and in other places. So, you know, I think there’s a lot of opportunity in San Antonio, and I think it will continue to thrive. But, you know, it’s not going to be without challenge,” Petersen said.

Lastly, Petersen detailed many of the large-scale projects and plans in the works that will also bring new economic stimulus.

“Well, San Antonio is on the map in many, many ways and certainly in the draft. It won’t be helped with that. So the Spurs have the rock that will be coming open here soon. They’ve shown the photos of the new training facility, really bringing it to the state of the art, the most world-class in the NBA, which is which is a big step. Civic Park opened this weekend. A lot of business going downtown. It’s going to be a great place. You know, we know Velocity Texas, they are changing the face of the East side. So, you know, there is development, there is progress all around this community. And it’s, you know, very positive steps for the community at large,” Petersen said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.