Robert Rivard

City leaders, architects, urban planners, developers,  transportation experts, downtown devotees, journalists — there are a lot of us in San Antonio who are Atlantic Cities junkies.

We and others like us in every North American city subscribe to the online magazine’s daily newsletter, which arrives sometime before the lunch hour CST. It’s my late morning coffee break, when I pause in my day and just read, always learning more about what’s happening in other cities across the globe than I otherwise could learn by surfing the web all day long.

Now the Atlantic Cities has turned its attention to San Antonio. Wednesday’s portfolio of stories included San Antonio’s Ingenious Plan To Get Kids Good Jobs Out of High School, among other stories that took readers from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Detroit and Chapel, NC and even to a farm for a look at aquaponics. The story is an homage to the four industry-driven Alamo Academies here, part of the five-campus Alamo Colleges, which enrolls more than 62,000 students.


“The Alamo Colleges are proud of this program, which is a partnership among ourselves, the City of San Antonio, area independent school districts, and industry,” said Bruce Leslie, the Alamo Colleges chancellor. “It’s a very broad partnership and it’s recognized as one of the top 10 workforce programs in the country, meaning programs that lead directly to employment.”

There is something exhilarating about reading national press extolling innovative, market-driven education initiatives right here in San Antonio.

The story is part of an ongoing “Next Economy” series, a joint venture between the Atlantic and  National Journal, two wonkish, Washington, D.C-based magazines, both part of the Atlantic Media stable and closely read in the nation’s capital. The media company is testament to the viability of smart journalism even in the age of digital disruption.

The National Journal, by the way, amplified the San Antonio focus Wednesday when its editorial director, Ron Fournier, moderated a conversation with the Castro twins before a San Antonio audience of business and civic leaders attending the annual “SA to DC” conference sponsored by the San Antonio Greater Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Free Trade Alliance.

The magazine’s online story prominently featured a photo of the Castro twins, while the article focused on remarks by Rep. Joaquín Castro. “Rising Democratic Star Joaquin Castro Says Obama ‘Needs to Be a Leader’ on the Budget,” tracks a surprisingly bold statement by the freshman Congressman from San Antonio calling on Pres. Obama to take an aggressive stance in pushing for a budget deal. Suddenly, he’s out of brother Julián’s shadow.

The Castro twins.
The Castro twins.

The “Next Economy” series tracks a fast-changing national economy that seems to tally as many winners as losers, and is either very good or very scary, depending on your own position and perspective. Here is how the series editors explain it:

“The Great Recession upended expectations about economic security in the United States, and it changed the way we work and live. The Next Economy project asks: How are Americans adapting to the new economy? This joint initiative from the Atlantic and National Journal will use polls, an annual special issue, national and local events with thought leaders and this site to answer that question.

… Over the next week, we’ll be exploring the economy of San Antonio in depth. Check back for more stories.”

–The Atlantic Cities editors

The Wednesday article about the Alamo Academies’ aerospace program is just one of the San Antonio stories available this week on Atlantic Cities. Another featured story unfolded nine floors above where I am writing in the Weston Centre at Geekdom. “Tech Central: What it Takes to Become a Startup City,” begins with the inevitable Austin vs. San Antonio comparisons, but this time the outcome is a bit different: “Hip Austin gets all the love, but San Antonio is the new home for innovative tech entrepreneurs.”

Tex Morgan and Steve Flannery at Geekdom.
Tex Morgan, founder and CEO of Inselberge Inc., sits with Steve Flannery, owner of Steve’s PC in on of many co-working spaces at Geekdom. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The article gives a national audience a familiar story locally: the growing cybersecurity and bioscience sectors, the rise of Rackspace, and the efforts by its chairman, Graham Weston, to create Geekdom, a collaborative co-working space and technology incubator in San Antonio, headed by Nick Longo, who developed a successful software business in Corpus Christi called and was profiled here last July.

Finally, a third posting is a Q&A with Mayor Castro conducted before the “Sa to DC” trip, titled,  “Can Texas Turn Blue?” The Mayor’s last published comment in the exchange is the most interesting. Asked if he is “planning on running for governor or any other office soon,” Castro replies, “I’m not going to run for governor anytime soon. But if I do a good job, I’ll look around after my time here is done.”

Castro likely will exit the mayor’s office in 2017, leaving a transformed city ready to celebrate its 300th birthday if all his plans fall in place. That might not surprise too many San Antonians, but it’s worth noting how closely the rest of the country is watching our city and its leadership. All week long if you read Atlantic Cities.

Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

Related Stories on the Rivard Report:

Scholarships and Jobs: Toyota and Alamo Colleges Strike Deal

Mayor Castro: “It’s an Exciting Time to be in San Antonio”

Reimagining the MBA: St. Mary’s University, 3 Day Startup, and Social Entrepreneurship

San Antonio: Growth in High-Tech is on the Horizon

Geekdom: One Year Old and Best in Texas

 Nick Longo: Coffee Shop to to Geekdom Jefe

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report, is now a freelance journalist.