Booz Allen Hamilton project lead Jason Rauck demonstrates cyber centurion on behalf of the 25th Air Force.
Booz Allen Hamilton project lead Jason Rauck demonstrates the Cyber Centurion virtual reality technology last month at the launch of the University of Texas at San Antonio's National Security Collaboration Center. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Booz Allen Hamilton is planning to grow its local workforce by about 50 percent. And it’s choosing an increasingly tech-sector-heavy downtown to do so.

The government contractor and IT consultancy’s local presence of about 550 employees is already its largest Texas outpost, and the global corporation is slated to grow its San Antonio personnel by 250, pending local incentive agreements. Those jobs – the majority of which would earn a minimum annual salary of $70,000 – would be created over a five-year period. Most of them are slated to be based at Booz Allen Hamilton’s downtown office at the Weston Centre.

Bob Miller, a vice president who heads the firm’s San Antonio office, joined Booz Allen 18 years ago when San Antonio was home to about 70 employees. Now it’s nearing 600. San Antonio’s nationally known stature as Military City USA has been reflected in the increasingly important military missions that occur in the city, Miller said.

“Those missions coincide in a lot of respects with the work we do as a firm. San Antonio is a logical place for us to expand.”

The information security ecosystem and collaboration among the local entities supporting it has matured, and that’s drawn more eyes to San Antonio in recent years, said Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president and CEO of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.

“These are knowledge economy jobs we want in San Antonio, that we want for San Antonians,” Saucedo-Herrera said. “I believe this is a great announcement, and I think it’s a big win for everyone across the board.”

In San Antonio, Booz Allen will seek to hire within its four highest-growth areas: immersive learning, such as virtual and augmented reality training; cybersecurity; data analytics; and artificial intelligence. Those are areas Booz Allen’s clientele is focused on and where San Antonio as a tech economy excels, Miller said.

Miller highlighted Booz Allen’s immersive learning initiatives. It’s an area the firm is spending a lot of effort developing, he said, and its San Antonio clients are demanding more interactive training methods, such as training for cybersecurity professionals that simulates cyber incidents.

Booz Allen also has a local presence at Port San Antonio, the expansive Southside industrial hub, and some of its San Antonio employees work from home. The company became a private-sector partner of the University of Texas at San Antonio’s cybersecurity-focused National Security Collaboration Center. Currently operating the center at its main campus, UTSA plans to stand up a permanent facility in downtown San Antonio by 2022.

San Antonio City Council is slated to vote on granting incentives to Booz Allen at its May 2 meeting. The proposal would provide the firm with as much as $188,000 for job creation, which equates to about $1,000 per full-time job created with an annual salary of at least $70,000. Additionally, the City would provide a $62,000 workforce development grant for scholarships and paid internships.

The Bexar County Commissioners Court is to vote on an economic development package of its own on May 7.

The incentives are important as an “enabler” that would “accelerate” job growth Booz Allen is already planning for San Antonio, Miller said. For example, if the incentives are granted, the firm might hire more employees than they regularly would.

“We are very focused on hiring in San Antonio where we can for a lot of reasons,” he said. “One is we think the talent is here. No. 2 we think it is important. To me, the quality of life improves when you can hire in your local area.”

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is a columnist at the San Antonio Report. A former reporter and editor at the SA Report, he currently works as a project manager for New York City-based Advance Local.