To make real progress in economic development, San Antonio needs a new strategic paradigm

Last month, by unanimous vote, San Antonio City Council accepted the much flawed Strategic Framework and Workplan presented by the City’s Economic Development Department. Instead of a real economic development plan, the council seems to be sticking to what they know: an updated commercial real estate site selection playbook.

But let’s not confuse running a large real estate program with a serious-minded economic policy analysis, formulation, and implementation agenda. Economic and business development are two distinct concepts, each having unique tenets.

Economic development, from my 35-year experience, is a concerted strategic visioning process led by community-based representatives and other stakeholders, leading to socioeconomic impacts and outcomes, resulting in increased standards of living and progressive economic health of a specific area. City leaders haven’t defined economic development in these terms, thus San Antonio has never truly worked toward real economic development.

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