With rising unemployment driven by the coronavirus pandemic a growing concern, local officials are calling upon 12 community leaders to come up with a plan that ensures San Antonio does not suffer lasting effects. 

More than 165,000 people in Bexar County, a region long nagged by poverty, have filed for unemployment since early March – an average of more than 9,000 a week, according to Texas Workforce Commission data.

On Friday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced he has formed a team of local business, nonprofit, and higher education leaders to turn the tide. 

In a letter to City Council members, Nirenberg said, “The public health crisis continues to expose and exacerbate long-standing inequities within our community. We have witnessed a marked increase in adverse outcomes among our city’s most vulnerable residents, who continue to experience worsening poverty and instability.”

Thus, he added, recovery efforts “must be transformative … insulating our community against future emergencies.”

On June 4, the Council approved a $191 million local recovery plan that earmarked $75 million for workforce training to stabilize workers and the economy during and after the pandemic. 

With an initial plan that supports various workforce development initiatives now in place, Nirenberg has charged the leadership team with developing targeted educational, training, and wraparound services for those enrolled in workforce development programs. 

The team is also responsible for creating frameworks for stakeholders and service providers to work together and identifying resources beyond sales tax allocation to support the plan. 

Members of the team are:

• Cristina Aldrete, president & CEO, North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

• Craig Boyan, president and chief operating officer, H-E-B

• Taylor Eighmy, president, University of Texas at San Antonio

• Mike Flores, chancellor, Alamo Colleges District

• Marjie French, CEO, San Antonio Area Foundation

• Tuesdaé Knight, president and CEO, San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside

• Richard Perez, president & CEO, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

• Sonia Rodriguez, community leader, COPS/Metro

• Kate Rogers, executive vice president, Charles Butt Foundation

• Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

• Kevin Voelkel, president, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas

• Harriet Dominique, senior vice president, The USAA Foundation, Inc., and The USAA Educational Foundation

Nirenberg appointed two Council members to serve as liaisons between the team and Council. They are Rebecca Viagran (D3) and Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4).

Disclosure: Kate Rogers is a Rivard Report board member. Harriet Dominique is a member of the Rivard Report’s Board of Community Advisors.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.