State of San Antonio Tech Industry: Growing But Facing Challenges

The innovative local tech start up Geekdom says while the local tech industry is growing at a rate of 32% every five years, San Antonio is at risk of slipping behind oth aggressively courting tech start ups, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"We have about a thousand tech companies across the city, employing about 35,000 workers, we pay about $3 billion in wages, for a total economic impact of about $10 billion across the city," David Heard of the tech public affairs arm TechBloc told tech leaders in the annual state of the tech industry report.

Heard said the average tech job pays about $70,000, which is twice the average salary earned in other

San Antonio industries. He says about one third of the 35,000 local tech workers work for or in association with the federal government, mainly the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense, and mainly in the growing field or cybersecurity.

But Heard warned that as other cities also develop tech incubators and state-up assistance programs of their own, San Antonio is slipping when it comes to tech talent.

"This is 2016, we were 45th, 2017 we were 46th, and in 2018, we slipped to 47th," he said.

Heard pointed out that while San Antonio is second only to Washington DC in the number of cybersecurity professionals, many of them can't discuss their careers because they work in classified fields.

Heard also warned that while start up money flowing to San Antonio remains strong, it has actually fallen over the past several years. from $35.7 million raised in 2015 to $32.9 million raised last year, and fewer tech firms hit revenue goals in 2018.

TechBloc stressed that its future is tied largely to the future of San Antonio, in fields like education and econominc development.

"We know that in the future San Antonio will be bigger, the question is, will it be better," Heard asked.

He pointed out that San Antonio still 'ranks below Detroit' in wages and remains a low wage and low education city, there are improvements. He cited UTSA's aggressive plan to make major expansions of its downtown campus, with a special emphasis on cyber security and technology.

The reports also indicated that more and more tech firms are concentrating in the downtown area, a move increased by the recent move of hundreds of USAA tech workers downtown. He said because tech workers enjoy living and working in an area which is heavy with other technies, that development is positive for the city's tech growth as well.

Heard also pointed out that as tech becomes more and more embedded in every aspect of our lives, essentially every firm will become a tech firm, and having a strong and growing tech sector will help San Antonio grow in other knowledge-based industries as well in the future.

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