San Antonio contingent looking to sell SA at SXSW

Organization looking to bring new residents to Alamo City

By Charles Gonzalez - Anchor/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - For the first time in its 30-year history, South by Southwest will have a large contingent of San Antonio residents ready to share with the world why they believe San Antonio is the perfect place to live.

Eric Bell and Kevin Peckham created the non-profit Choose San Antonio last year with the goal of bringing a group to SXSW Interactive this year. The group rented out a 2-story building at the corner of Trinity and 6th streets in Austin which will go by the name of Casa San Antonio.

“Our hope and expectation is to make a really warm and positive impression on people who have little or no impression of San Antonio,” said Bell, the chairman of Choose San Antonio.

“The truth is that the image of San Antonio nationally and internationally lags behind the reality,” added Choose San Antonio executive director Kevin Peckham.

During the three day SXSW Interactive March 11-13, the group will host 47 different events including 17 panels and 24 different speakers. Thirty-nine event sponsors have helped put on the entire event.

“I think we get stuck in our little hacienda bubble that we don't understand that we offer so much to the world and it's time to, c'mon y'all, it's time to share,” said local artist Cruz Ortiz who will take part in the event. “I know some people are like, no, don't show them that. I'm like, it's pretty amazing.”

“This is a long-term project,” added Bell. “We hope and expect to do this every year. We hope to and expect to target other opportunities, other festivals, (and) other events where there are culture creators.”

The overall goal is to attract new residents and not visitors.

“We hope when someone pursues job opportunities, perhaps they have an opportunity in San Francisco, or in Denver or they have an opportunity in San Antonio, that we don't get immediately shuffled to the bottom of the pile. That they take us seriously as a world class city,” said Bell.

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