Mayor Julián Castro presented his first State of the City Address on Thursday, January 28, 2010, and proclaimed San Antonio as a city on the move that will vault forward economically in the coming decade.
«This is the decade of San Antonio, the decade of our emergence as an economic powerhouse nationally and internationally,» Castro said. «We’ll get there by building up brainpower and opportunity, making vibrant our public spaces, and getting the fundamentals of city government right.»
Mayor Castro told a record crowd of more than 900 business and community leaders that his administration will not hide from the city’s most difficult issues, which include raising the educational attainment level of the local workforce and investing in the city’s urban core.
«Great cities are defined by their downtowns. San Antonio must invest in downtown and make it a magnet for residents and visitors alike,» Castro said. «In these next few years, we will put a new streetcar system on the ground, redevelop our beloved Hemisfair, and enhance our Riverwalk to breathe new life into our downtown.»
«The top priority for 2010 is creating jobs for San Antonians. Our city has fared better than most American communities during this downturn, but we must work to fare better. 20,000 net new jobs in 2010 is the goal.»
«We must embrace new economic opportunities. San Antonio can and should become a leader in the green economy by investing in green job training, incentivizing green manufacturing and leading the way in the use of renewables to meet our energy needs.»
Transcript of Speech:
[ Applause ]
Thank you very much for that introduction, Carri. You’ve already shown in your short time wonderful leadership here at the Chamber. I want to thank you and Richard Perez and all the folks at the Chamber for your tremendous leadership in the city. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work with ya’ll as we expand the Mentoring Matters initiatives, and make sure that most folks have had the opportunity to reach their dreams. And I want to thank all of ya’ll for being here. Carri mentioned that there are over 900 folks here, and when they told me that yesterday, I thought that this event must have been billed as “C.P.S. Energy, Behind-the-Scenes.” [ Laughter ] Or something to draw folks here.
But really, I believe that there is tremendous energy here in San Antonio in 2010. I believe that 2010 marks the beginning of the decade of San Antonio. This is the decade that we will emerge as an economic powerhouse across the nation and across the world, a place that people are looking toward for leadership, a place that people are taking notice of, a place that is in perfect position to seize the opportunity of tomorrow. It has been my absolute privilege to serve as your mayor for the last seven months. These days have been exciting ones, they’ve been long ones, but they’ve been well worthwhile because of the work of many, many folks, a couple of which I’d like to just recognize right now.
The first is, and I’d like to ask them all to stand up, the best city council that we’ve had in years, our San Antonio city council, please, if you would, stand up. I see Councilwoman Cisneros, Councilwoman Taylor, Councilwoman Ramos, Councilman Cortez, Councilman Medina, Councilman Lopez, Councilman Rodriguez, Councilman Williams, Councilwoman Chan, and Councilman Clamp. Thank ya’ll very much.
I was, of course, not in office for four years, and in that time we had one of the best mayors in America, Phil Hardberger, who did a wonderful job of laying out a vision and a foundation for us to build on, and I’d like to recognize him as well. Thank you very much, Mayor Hardberger, for being here.
[ Applause ]
Everybody says that we have the best city manager in America, and seven months ago I got a chance to start testing that for myself, and I got to tell you, it’s the truth. Sheryl Sculley has done an absolutely wonderful job as city manager, and she’s really, and I think that Phil would agree with this, she is the reason that we look so good being mayor. I hope she’ll stand up and be recognized. Thank you very much, Sheryl, for your work.
[ Applause ]
I remember coming to a couple of chamber events over the last few years, and Nelson Wolff would always tell this joke about being — I don’t know whether it was him not being the old mayor anymore or the young mayor, or I guess being about the same age as Phil. These days I know that I’m the young mayor, and he’s the older county judge but has been a terrific partner and collaborator and one of the reasons that our city does so well. Thank you very much, Nelson, for your leadership. I’d like to recognize you as well.
[ Applause ]
And then I want to recognize my own staff. I see many of them here from Robbie Greenblum who couldn’t be here today to Jaime Castillo, Frances Gonzalez, Jed Maebius. I see Christian Archer, Roland Garza, Sarah McLornan, Manoj Mate, Jeanne Russell, Alexis Velasquez. Thank ya’ll very much. Patti Puente, Tina Blanco for the work ya’ll do every day to keep the office running and to help lend energy to our vision.
I also want to thank our city staff at large. You know, the city of San Antonio has about 12,000 employees throughout its organization, and every day they go about doing the hard work, from picking up the garbage to repairing our streets to protecting our families every night. They are owed a real debt of gratitude, and I’d like us to recognize them right now.
[ Applause ]
And finally, I want to thank the Youth Orchestra. They were up there a second ago. But wasn’t that beautiful music from our Youth Orchestra of San Antonio?
[ Applause ]
It may have been mentioned earlier, but the Youth Orchestra has a wonderful array of talent, and they’re going to be performing next summer at the Shanghai World Expo. And all of us from San Antonio can be so proud about their accomplishments, and we look forward to seeing their endeavors in Shanghai. Well, you know, we live in a world in 2010 that presents both enormous challenges but also enormous opportunities. We live in a world that’s growing faster than ever, a world of 6.7 billion people, a truly global competitive marketplace where countries are vying for investments and resources, a world where for the first time in human history more people live in urban areas than in rural ones. And San Antonio is making its mark in this world. We’re a city of 1.35 million people, the seventh-largest city in the United States, the fifth-fastest growing city. We were recently ranked by Forbes as the second-fastest recovering city, ranked as one of the best places to own a home, and one publication even just ranked us as the 15th best place for a fresh start, whatever that means.
[ Laughter ]
But probably the best part about San Antonio is its character and sense of community. You can hear it in the stories of the Kelly workers who speak with pride about the work they did in defense of our nation and San Antonio’s prominent role in it. You can see it in the faces of grandparents at high school and college graduations when they hug their loved ones, knowing that the opportunities will be there for them in ways that oftentimes in generations past, it wasn’t for the older generation. You can see it on Mother’s Day, not just in the living rooms of homes throughout the city, but also in the cemeteries among the head stones as thousands and thousands of San Antonians visit their gone loved ones. We are a city of real community and character, a city that is growing and that looks forward. A city that does not slough off its past but combines the two to try and create an even brighter future. San Antonio is a special city.
A few weeks ago we celebrated the beginning of the second decade of the 21st Century, and it’s increasingly clear that just as a symphony orchestra depends not just on one instrument or one talent but on many instruments and many talents to make beautiful music, so, too, do those cities that will succeed and thrive in the 21st century depend on many elements, and in order to ensure our city in 2010 and beyond, San Antonio must take a certain path, a certain vision, must meet its mark. It’s really not that complicated.
We have to make sure that we build up terrific brain power and create enormous opportunity to match that brain power, that we create a fantastic quality of life, a place that’s vibrant and exciting and culturally rich, a place that people want to live, to work, and to visit, a place that is exciting. We have to make sure that we’re responsible, that we get the fundamentals of city government right, that we’re a safe city, that we’re a city where people can move around conveniently, that we’re a city that people feel comfortable living in. In my own life, I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to be born in this city, to grow up here and go to our public schools and come back and to pursue the career of my dreams as an attorney and in public service, and my mother was doubly blessed in that she got to see another one of her sons do the same thing. That is what I want for all San Antonio’s young people. The best way that we can do that is to ensure that we create opportunity for them. My goal for San Antonio in the year 2010 is to see us create 20,000 net new jobs in this local economy this year.
[ Applause ]
Now that’s not going to be easy, but if the last couple of years are any guide, we know that San Antonio has fared significantly better than most other places in the nation. Over the last nine months alone, we have seen the announcement of more than 4,000 new jobs in San Antonio, from Medtronic to Toyota, to Nationwide, our cyber command, the 24th Air Force. San Antonio has built a great foundation for the future, but we’re going to make it better.
Over the last several years one of the things that we’ve seen as a need in order to position our city to better create opportunity has been to create one portal of entry, one economic development arm that could best represent our city, that could best ensure that San Antonio competes against the likes of Austin and Dallas and Denver and Phoenix and San Jose and Orlando and other places. And Sheryl Sculley and others, I see Wayne Peacock here, I know Graham Weston and Elaine Mendoza also participated in the effort to create a new model of economic development built on the shoulders of the Economic Development Foundation that has served San Antonio so well for decades now. To invest in that new entity, not just the responsibility to recruit companies to San Antonio but also the responsibility to market our city nationally and internationally, and the responsibility to ensure that we retain the jobs that are already here in our big businesses, in our small businesses, that we never take our eyes off the ball and we ensure that just as we look to other places to get companies to come and invest here, that we do everything that we can to ensure that the jobs that are already here stay here, the companies who have already invested, when they decide to grow, that they invest right here in San Antonio again. And I believe that we will accomplish that. The city council has already passed a measure. I commend county Judge Wolff and the county commissioners who just two days ago did the same. And we’re looking forward to that effort because it’s going to be great for San Antonio’s business.
[ Applause ]
You know, almost 50 years ago now on November 21st, 1963, the day before he was assassinated, President Kennedy on his trip to Dallas came to San Antonio for the inauguration of the Brooks Air Force Base School of Aerospace Medicine and the aerospace medical center. And President Kennedy said at that time that «It is fitting that San Antonio should be the site of this center and this school as we gather to dedicate this complex of buildings, for this city has long been the home of the pioneers in the air.» President Kennedy’s words echo still today in San Antonio. We are still a city of pioneers. As we stand on the cusp of becoming the military medical training capital of the United States, if not the world, with a terrific investment at Fort Sam Houston. All you have to do is drive down 35 to see all of the fantastic construction there, and you know that something special is happening. And we will ensure that we capitalize on that investment by doing what we can to encourage technology transfer, by providing a fertile business climate for entrepreneurs to take advantage of that, by ensuring that we support our military on its successful mission as they defend our nation. The truth is that that has always been San Antonio’s history, and so it is again. We also hear his words echo when San Antonio becomes the leading center for investment in cyber security and defense.
President Obama has made clear that the defense our digital networks is the new frontier of warfare in defense of our nation. And San Antonio has tremendous assets that set it apart from every other single region in the country. With the 24th air force, with the NSA Texas Cryptologic Center, with UTSA Cyber Institute, with Our Lady of the Lake investment and academic programs, and with the terrific energy that is being spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce to create a cyber plan that will mean more than the $8 billion that cyber already contributes to the local economy in 2010. You guys are to be commended on that, and that has terrific promise for our future.
[ Applause ]
And every once in a while, in a generation, there comes a fundamental economic shift that creates a window of opportunity for those cities that are bold enough, that are innovative enough, that have the collective vision to take advantage of the moment.
Thirty years ago, as Mayor Cisneros began his tenure, that opportunity was in hardware and software and biotechnology, and today that opportunity is in the green economy and sustainability. And San Antonio can and will be a leader in embracing sustainability, but not only for the sake of doing it, and in addition to the environmental benefits that it will provide, we will embrace it because it will mean jobs for our city, putting people to work. Just the other day we stood at the opening of the Mission Verde center, capitalizing on the great work that mayor Hardberger did and the vision that he set out and the hard work of Larry Zinn and others. The Mission Verde center will be a place in the middle of the west side of San Antonio, a collaboration among the city, the Alamo Colleges, Texas A&M and others to train folks for the green jobs of the future, to take folks who oftentimes believe that they’re caught between making a lot less money, taking a job that they think they’re overqualified for, or not being able to get a good job, blue collar jobs, blue collar workers who, many of whom may not have a college degree but may have a G.E.D. or graduated from high school, who have the ability to do great work for our community, to install solar panels, to do weatherization, to create energy-efficient homes, to xeriscape, to do all of those jobs that we call green jobs. This center is one of a kind in the nation and it’s connecting the theory to the reality. The idea of a green economy is the practice of putting people to work to provide for their families, and I expect great things from it in the future. And San Antonio has had, and I have seen in just the seven
months that I have been in office, terrific interest from folks, companies in the United States and companies abroad to come here and invest in solar manufacturing plants, wind turbine plants, and San Antonio has created a buzz that is catching the attention of people
around the world as a great place to do business and a great place to invest in terms of the green economy, but we will do more. We will do what we need to do to invest in these jobs. We will train the folks we need to train to provide a steady workforce to take them on. We’ll work with Alamo Colleges and others to ensure that we have both the business climate we need to succeed and the pool of workers that it takes to do so.
The cities of the 21st Century that succeed the most will also be those cities that reach out to our growing world, the cities that forge relationships beyond the borders of our nation.
I mentioned earlier that the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio is going to be in Shanghai at the World Expo, and we’re very proud of another San Antonian, Jose Villarreal, who is heading up an effort to put on the American Pavilion at the World Expo. And San Antonio next May will have “San Antonio Day” in Shanghai to demonstrate to the business community there in China and throughout the world what San Antonio has to offer. We’re also closer to home, keeping a great relationship with Mexico and Latin America. I don’t have to tell many folks in the room that 2010 is a very special year in Mexican history and for San Antonio’s role in that history, the 200 years since the independence of Mexico from Spain and 100 years since the Mexican Revolution. And at every step of the way the relationship between San Antonio and Mexico has provided tremendous economic investment and opportunity for our city, and we will ensure that that continues through our efforts to put on events throughout 2010, through our efforts to support business development in Mexico and throughout Latin America, and through forging closer relationships through the many folks who have come to the United States recently who have a lot to offer our city. I know that many times when people think of an international city, they don’t necessarily think of San Antonio. In fact, I remember just a few years ago sitting in an office in a high-rise in San Francisco and talking to someone and telling them that I was from San Antonio, and him asking me if I owned any farmland or ranchland. I have seen, and I know that it’s clear, that one of the things that San Antonio must do to succeed economically to compete in our global economy is to raise the profile of this city. You go out throughout the nation, much less the world, and you ask folks about San Antonio. Sometimes they know the Alamo and the Riverwalk, especially, but they often think that San Antonio is a small town. In fact, many folks think that Austin is bigger than we are. Even though we’re twice as big. We have set about in my office to try and raise the profile of our city. The day that the 24th Air Force was to be inaugurated, we put out a press release touting San Antonio’s cyber assets, and I got on the phone with a reporter and we were fortunate enough that the New York Times saw fit to declare that San Antonio is becoming a leader in cyber security.
On February 10th CNBC will broadcast from San Antonio and profile San Antonio’s business success and the cities of Texas, and we will continue to invest in raising the profile of our successes to other communities throughout this nation and the world. I believe that we cannot even count over the years how many opportunities we’ve missed because people don’t know about all the riches of this city and its potential. And with your work and the great accomplishments that this business community and our general community have made, selling San Antonio is not hard at all, and it’s a pleasure to do that.
On that same visit that President Kennedy made all those years ago, he was told that the Edgewood Independent School District was going to name one of the first schools in his honor, John F. Kennedy High School, and that it would be open the following year. And he remark that he looked forward to coming back once it was open. Of course he was not able to. But today John F. Kennedy High School is there, and it has had a rich and proud history, but like too many of our high schools, at John F. Kennedy High School, more than a third of the folks who start off in the ninth grade never graduate from the 12th grade. The most important long-term investment that we can make in our city is to invest in the education of our young people.
[ Applause ]
I know that that’s an endeavor that many folks commit their lives to. We have 15 to 17 independent school districts working hard to educate our young people. We have many non-profits. We have many private companies. We have many folks who have
dedicated a lot to that effort. And over the years folks have searched at City Hall for the
best way to make a difference in the education of our young people. And many mayors have made a real difference. From Mayor Cisneros’ investment in the education partnership to Mayor Hardberger’s “P through 16-plus” we’re making it our business at City Hall to supplement the efforts of our school district, and our philosophy is to make sure that our young people get started early, that we help them out through the rough middle years, and that we help them finish strong. And so by 2011 we will have on the ground a very early childhood learning center to do our part, to be innovative, to reengineer as we can a way that early childhood works to create dozens and then hundreds and then thousands over the years of young people who are better prepared for kinder, more likely to graduate from high school and more likely to go on to college.
We’re partnering with the chamber and with Rackspace and ATB and SAWS and CPS and Broadway Bank and Frost Bank on “Mentoring Matters”, a wonderful effort that they’re spearheading, to reach into the lives of our young people and show them that there are folks who care about them, who love them, who want to see them succeed, and who are there to demonstrate to them that, yeah, you can be a doctor, you can be a lawyer, you can be a teacher, you can be an engineer, you can be an entrepreneur, you can even be a politician if you want. This year I’m visiting every single middle school in our city. I’m told that there are 76 public middle schools in our city — I think I’ve done about 25 of them so far — to deliver that same message.
By September of this year we will also open the first college access and opportunity center in our city, a place where folks, no matter what school they go to, no matter how much money their family makes or doesn’t make, can go to get effective counseling on admission and financial aid and the kind of resources they need to make the best decision for their future at a very critical moment in their lives, to ensure that as many of them who want to go to college get to do that, and those who want to go into job training are able to do that as well. We want to make sure that they finish strong. We’re also ensuring that we continue to collaborate with the Alamo Colleges, with our UTSA, to find ways that we can ensure that more students who start off college actually finish it, and when they do, that they have a good job that meets their aspirations. You know, Business Week recently ranked San Antonio as the second-best place in Texas to raise children. The truth is that we want to make sure that we are number one, but in order to do that, it takes more than just what happens in the classroom or even at home. It also means tackling the stumbling blocks to educational success. And for so many years for this city one of those stumbling blocks has been teenage pregnancy. This year in the summer in conjunction with the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women, we will hold a forum on teenage pregnancy to bring in experts, to bring in folks who have lived the experience, to come together as a community to strategize and create an action plan on how we can ensure that we reduce teenage pregnancy in San Antonio, that more folks, more young women have the opportunity to grow up and get their education before they are faced with raising a child. And more young men take the responsibility that they should as well. I believe that it’s something we need to do to brighten San Antonio’s future, and I believe that at the end of the day, that we can see significant progress if we work hard together to make it. [ Applause ]
The other day I read an interesting fact that said that a lemon has more sugar than a strawberry. I didn’t think so. It made me think about San Antonio. Do you know that according to U.S. census bureau in 2005, San Antonio had 89,852 folks enroll in college or graduate school. That’s more than the states of Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, both of the Dakotas, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming, and it’s more than Austin, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver and San Jose.
[ Applause ]
People don’t think of us or perceive us as a place of education, higher education, but we are, and there’s tremendous reason for hope in that number. A couple of days ago a woman who lives here in San Antonio sent me an e-mail. She is a very proud mother. In her e-mail she told me about her son who graduated from one of our public schools here and went to a prestigious college and got two advance degrees, and now he’s a research scientist in Seattle. And the purpose of her e-mail was to tell me that she wanted her son back home in San Antonio. It’s a story that we hear a lot. But her son, she said, always tells her that he would rather stay in Seattle or go back to St. Louis where he went to medical school because they have a better quality of life. There’s more things to do. Although I don’t completely agree with that, I do believe that our destiny as a city is tied to how vibrant and culturally rich and exciting we make our city. Mayor Hardberger’s lasting legacy, I believe, will be in his great investment in the arts and our parks that serve all San Antonians very well, events like Luminaria to our strong cultural arts and performing arts that make San Antonio unique, we need to keep up our commitment even during these tough budget times to the arts. We need to ensure that our parks around the city provide a great place for families to recreate and to create the memories that last a lifetime. We also need to make sure that we have the greatest downtown of any city in the United States of America. [ Applause ]
Great cities are defined by great downtowns, whether it’s New York or San Francisco or London or Paris or any place around the world, and San Antonio’s must be as well. Our goal is to create a vibrant 24/7 downtown, a place that’s alive with residents and visitors, a place that has character, a place that is not interchangeable with Kansas City or Minneapolis, a place that when someone leaves, they say, “Wow, San Antonio”. We have a lot going for us. San Antonio’s downtown has tremendous assets, from the Riverwalk, the Alamo, the museums, the Symphony, restaurants. But I believe that this decade, these next ten years will be the decade of downtown. We’re making significant investments to ensure that it is. In just a few days at City Hall we will implement what our city manager has formulated as the Centro Partnership, a public-private collaboration to market and invest in our downtown to ensure that it looks great, to ensure that it has a great image, and that every time we have the potential to bring in a new employer to San Antonio or to grow jobs from within they think about the 281 corridor and they think about Westover Hills, they think about the I-10 corridor and other parts of our city, but they also seriously consider investing in downtown San Antonio. We’re also –
[ Applause ] That’s probably Ben Brewer over there. We’re also pleased to be working with County Judge Wolff and with the leadership at VIA. to invest in the first route of our streetcar system that I believe will fundamentally transform our downtown, will make it a place that’s more convenient to get around, make it a place that is right for transit-oriented development and investment, will make it a place that people are excited that much more to be in, and that streetcar system, I believe, can be accomplished by the middle of 2014. Now, several things have to fall in place for that to happen, and I see Sheryl over there probably squirming a little bit, but I believe that it can happen. And I want to thank Judge Wolff for his vision in leading the effort over the years and Henry Munoz because when we accomplish it, it will be something great for San Antonio.
[ Applause ]
Perhaps, perhaps the most exciting initiative that we have downtown is the redevelopment of one of the most special places in our city, the Hemisfair. A few months after I got into office, building on the good work that had been done, we appointed the Hemisfair Park Redevelopment team, headed by Madison Smith, that has two already started to work on the planning effort, and it will oversee the redevelopment of 80 fantastic acres right in the middle of downtown to make it something spectacular, make it something that is a signature for San Antonio, as it is was when it debuted in 1968. All you have to do is talk to folks who were around, and who met their future spouse or remember traveling there to Hemisfair with their family or just remember all of the excitement around that time. And think about it. It debuted on April 6, 1968. Just a couple of days after the assassination of Dr. King and two months before the assassination of Robert Kennedy. And right in the middle of all of this turmoil in the nation, there was San Antonio, bringing the communities of the world together, showing that a city could rise to the occasion, rise to the world stage, and make all of us proud, and it did. The truth is that over the years it hasn’t been tended to as well as it could have, and that’s going to change in coming years.
[ Applause ]
And our attention won’t be limited to downtown. One of the challenges for San Antonio has always been to ensure that the urban core of our city thrives, and nowhere is that more true than on the east side of San Antonio. For many years folks on the east side have believed with the development of the Alamodome and the AT&T center, that there would be a neighborhood that had the opportunity to thrive as well, the residential
development, commercial development. It hasn’t worked out that way, but that’s not a reason to stop trying, and that’s why, with Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, her leadership, we inaugurated the East Side Reinvestment Summit, which is not a planning effort, not something that is going to be created and then get dropped on the proverbial shelf. It’s a doing effort. It’s a project implementation effort to identify those projects on the east side that we can make happen with the collaboration between City Hall and private developers to benefit the east side of San Antonio. We’ve already had two out of the three meetings, the first one had almost 400 folks. The second one of investors had a very great turnout. And we’re waiting for the third one on February 6. But before we get there, on February 4th the city council, with the help of my colleagues, will adopt a new infill incentive package, an effort to spur development not just on the east side but throughout the urban core of our city, in the near south side, the near west side, the near north side, and the downtown area.
[ Applause ]
We will offer impact fee waivers of up to $500,000 of projects in the urban core of our city. We’ll finally create the land bank that many folks have worked on throughout the years, and we’ll streamline the development process so that folks who want to develop in our urban core find a city government that wants to work with them and not against them.
[ Applause ]
And what we learn on the east side will benefit all of the urban core of our city and make sure that as a community all of us are strong. And finally, we also must ensure as we move forward as a community that we take the right steps, make the right decisions, get the basics of our city government right. Just a year ago you could read about cities all across the United States that were laying off hundreds if not thousands of workers, who were furloughing lease, who were making drastic budget cuts. In Dallas they cut $100 million from their budget. In Austin they had to go and seek a tax rate increase. In San Antonio, with the leadership of our city manager and our council, we did something different. We closed an $11 million budget deficit with no layoffs and no furloughs, and we went just about all way to closing fiscal year 2011 $67 million deficit as well.
[ Applause ]
And probably the most fundamental part of being a good city is ensuring that people are safe, that someone feels safe walking down his or her neighborhood. Over the last couple of years we’ve invested nearly — we’ve created nearly 300 new slots for police officers in our city. Soon after I got elected, we went up to Washington to seek stimulus money under the cops grant, and we were awarded more than $10 million for 50 new police officers to patrol the streets of San Antonio to keep our neighborhoods safer.
[ Applause ]
We’re also ensuring that we create a great transportation network in this city. Our 2007 bond package is on time and on budget. And later this year we’ll start preparing for a 2012 bond package that will also be over $500 million and mean that important infrastructure that needs work gets it. We will also ensure that through the hard work of Judge Wolff, myself, and others, we go up to the legislature in 2011 and knock on the door again for a local options bill that will allow us to provide the funding for infrastructure needs that San Antonio must have for the future in the 281 corridor, the 151 corridor, and other parts of the city, and investment in mass transit. 2009 was a hard year in the legislature.
I know I see my brother here as well as Representative Villarreal. I bet that Robert Puente was glad he wasn’t there. And 2011 promises to not be much easier. But we’re very determined that as a local community we have the opportunity to create a great transportation network in San Antonio. Just recently San Antonio broke out of what was just about a record drought. In fact, the rain that we feel outside today is a great reminder of that. And every time that we get into such a drought, the concern rises in prominence about making sure that our community has enough water to meet its basic needs. SAWS recently a new and amended 50-year water plan that it marching toward very soundly, and through the leadership there at SAWS and through work at the city, we will ensure that we acquire the acre-feet necessary to protect San Antonio’s future. We’ll also ensure that we secure San Antonio’s energy future. I bet you guys thought I was going to bring that up first today, huh?
There’s no question that at times I have felt like the mayor of utilities instead of the mayor of San Antonio, but CPS energy for decades now has been one of the best-run utilities in the United States, providing —[Applause ]— providing low-cost power to residents, to businesses, helping us attract companies like Microsoft with its data center, Toyota with its manufacturing, the NSA with its facilities, and we will ensure that it continues to do so. Of course, the investment in nuclear energy took a different turn than what well were anticipating, but I can assure you this: At the end of the day, this community, this leadership, will do everything that we need to do to protect the investment that we have already made in those reactors. And even if the eventual outcome is not additional investment in that nuclear facility, we will not let what we have — the work that we have put in and the dollars that we have put in — go to waste. We will protect them.
[ Applause ]
And so, like all of you, I’m very, very proud to be a resident of San Antonio. I look at the future for this city, and I only see great things. And my vision for the city, put bluntly, is to create a place where your children and your grandchildren can get very well educated and then pursue and land the career of their dreams no matter what field, instead of having to go to Houston, to Los Angeles or New York or Seattle. And that’s a very broad vision. The truth is that perhaps the greatest vision for communities are those that come from the communities themselves. Twenty-five years ago mayor Henry Cisneros brought hundreds of San Antonians together from every corner of the city, from every profession, different walks of life to envision what our city could be in the year 1990. Target ’90 took the talents and its expertise of people from around San Antonio and told them let’s dream big together. Let’s plan and then let’s act. It’s been 25 years since that effort. Think about how much our city has changed in that time. We’ve gone from a city of about 800,000 folks to over 1.3 million. We’ve gone to a city that boasts five Fortune 500 companies, a city that has expanded beyond the bounds of what many folks in 1983 could have imagined. We have changed considerably as a community. We have grown. Twenty-five years. As the old ad goes: Well, that’s too long.
Later this summer we will initiate SA 2020, an effort to again assemble the talents and the expertise and the vision of folks from throughout our community to come together and to set common goals for accomplishment by the year 2020, a common goal for job creation, common goals in infrastructure, in the arts, in education, in energy, in all of those things that are the building blocks of a great San Antonio because it is not the vision of one person that makes a difference. As you know in your own companies, it’s the vision of many and also the hard work. And this year-long effort will be a new opportunity for us to discuss and to debate and hopefully to resolve as a community what kind of city we want to be. Our city has a rich and proud history.
San Antonio is named for St. Anthony de Padua, and in the Catholic faith St. Anthony is the one that you pray to for strength or to find something that you may have lost. I think about that a lot these days as I think about the years ahead for our city. I know that the years ahead will be challenging ones, but in those years may we find the common vision to build up a city that is spectacular, a city of opportunity, a city where dreams come true, where the American dream becomes an American reality for all of our San Antonians. May we find the strength to admit our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities, and to turn them into our strengths, and may we find the courage and determination to unite as a community to do so. And may we find the wisdom to make the right choices and the confidence to get along on the journey. And may we never lose the character of our community that sets us apart. May we prosper together. Thank you.
[ Applause ]
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