(From left) Congressman Joaquin Castro, and Former Mayor and HUD Secretary Julián Castro
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, left, is seeking federal funding to further the cybersecurity industry in San Antonio. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro has proposed a $1 million cybersecurity manufacturing innovation park at Port San Antonio that would draw on the expertise of a new research institute at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The San Antonio Democrat submitted a project on behalf of UTSA and Port SA to the House Appropriations Committee, which was included in the House spending bill, said Michael Alexander Sarabia, Castro’s communications director, on Friday.

The innovation park, which would be located at Port San Antonio, would allow for small and medium industrial defense businesses to come together in order to establish cybersecure satellite production lines and warehousing, as well as give workers better access to workforce training in cybersecurity and energy efficiency, Castro said in a press release.  

Businesses within the park would be able to leverage the city’s existing cybersecurity ecosystem, which includes UTSA’s Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII), Port San Antonio’s technology campus, and existing Department of Defense resources in San Antonio, according to the press release. 

“San Antonio can lead the nation in cybersecurity manufacturing, and this collaborative venture between UTSA and Port SA will enable our workers to gain invaluable skills and our small businesses to compete globally,” Castro stated. “I submitted this community project in my district for funding by Congress, and glad it’s been included in House appropriations legislation. This project is a good example of how we can both bolster U.S. national security and support good-paying jobs in our community.”

Should Port SA and UTSA receive this federal funding, the university can leverage CyManII to help “launch a Texas-focused cybersecurity manufacturing innovation ecosystem at Port San Antonio,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. CyManII is a new $111 million federal research institute focusing on cybersecurity, energy efficiency, and creating manufacturing jobs. The institute is being funded by the Department of Energy over the next five years.

“Our work will help Texas small- and medium-sized advanced manufacturers to prepare for upcoming Department of Defense requirements and introduce manufacturers to the next generation of cyber informed secure by design architectures,” Eighmy said in the press release. 

Further establishing a cybersecurity manufacturing innovation ecosystem in San Antonio would bring more manufacturers to Texas and allow the state to “lead the nation in secure-to-market products,” Eighmy added.

The hope is that the innovation park would bring more manufacturers to Texas, bolstering the state’s spot as a global powerhouse in the cybersecurity manufacturing realm, said Howard Grimes, UTSA associate vice president and associate vice provost for institutional initiatives. Grimes is also CyManII’s chief executive officer.

“First thing [park tenants] would focus on is bringing Texas’ manufacturers up to cybersecurity standards as demanded by the Department of Defense, and soon to be by everyone else,” Grimes said. “Second thing we’d focus on is transitioning from the current state of cybersecurity and create the next generation of architects that are cybersecurity aware.”

Port San Antonio would love to see the funding secured and the innovation park built, said President and CEO  Jim Perschbach.

“Port San Antonio’s work growing our campus as a dynamic innovation destination helps position Texas as a national leader in cyber-secure manufacturing,” Perschbach said in the press release. “This funding further strengthens our collaboration with UTSA in delivering essential education and capabilities in cybersecurity to small and medium-sized Texas businesses.” 

In order for the project to move forward, the funding request must make it into Congress’ final version of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee’s bill.

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report. A native San Antonian, she graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a degree in telecommunication media...