Port San Antonio’s President and CEO Roland C. Mower gave a State of the Port address on Friday, Sept. 18.
Thank you very much for that gracious introduction, Councilmember Rey Saldaña.
And thank you and your fellow council members for your friendship and support since my arrival a year ago…
Likewise… I want to thank all the other public officials here today and throughout San Antonio …
You have been invaluable partners in our work…
And…Gabe… thank you and your team at the West San Antonio Chamber for your friendship as well… and for another great event today.
Friends… it’s obvious that this is a room full of people who share our passion to help our community …build futures.
At the Port we have a simple but powerful mission: Redevelop Kelly to create the conditions that help create good jobs.
Our mission puts us on the front lines in helping shape the destiny of one of the most vibrant communities in America.
It is a mission that spans decades…
The work we do today touches the lives of thousands of families throughout our community …
And if we do our job right… our work today will also provide a foundation for future generations.
We might never personally know some of those generations… but they will know us because of the efforts we’re undertaking today.
Just about everyone in this room has played a role in bringing us this far… and many of you will continue to play a role in moving us forward.
I look around me today and I know I could introduce and acknowledge just about every single person in here.
And in the years ahead I look forward to continue to personally acknowledge and thank each of you for all you do.
But I would like to take a moment and thank some of my immediate collaborators… starting with members from our board of directors present today:
And there are also several of our former board members… who shaped the organization we are entrusted with today…
I also want to thank my predecessor, Bruce Miller… for his years of tireless service to the Port and to our community.
Bruce and our board members created the foundation on which my team and I stand today.
Our job is seldom easy…
But in many ways my job today was made easier because of the pioneering efforts and hard work that was done by those who came before.
I also want to quickly acknowledge the best team I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
There are many of you here… so I’m asking that our staff at the Port take a moment to stand and be recognized.
Please be seated…
Except for you Juan Mares.
Today we are joined by several members from the Port staff. They include our leadership team… management… property management and construction… finance… facility services… and others.
Again, I could acknowledge each and every one.
But in the interest of time I wanted to put Juan on the spot for a moment… for exemplifying our values.
Juan is a powerful reminder of what it means to go the extra mile.
A few years ago Juan was chosen by our team as our Employee of the Year.
Many of you might not have met Juan until today.
But all of you have seen the results of his work.
Over the past 7 years one of Juan’s principal duties has been to ensure that all our roadways into and out of the property are clean, safe and professional in appearance.
He makes sure of that each and every morning… before thousands of people come to work here.
He travels up and down Hudnell Drive… and makes certain there is no litter or debris on the side of the road…
After work… on his own way home… he’s been known to pull over in his personal vehicle and haul off any debris by the roadside that makes the Port look untidy or poses a road hazard.
In fact… Juan doesn’t do this just on our major roads… but on the entire 1,900-acre property.
Juan… thank you… for going above-and-beyond… and making us look good.
At ease, Juan… please take a seat.
That can-do attitude that we see in Juan… is what I want to talk to you about today…
The job of redeveloping a property that covers an area almost three times the size of downtown can seem daunting.
I assure you… it’s not easy…
It’s not accomplished overnight.
But… like Juan… each of us has a role to play that moves our mission forward.
It takes hard work… that is not always recognized.
It takes focus and dedication.
It takes being flexible… and adapting to a world that is in constant change.
It takes going above and beyond what others expect of us…
And it takes thinking big… thinking beyond next week… next year and… in some cases… thinking beyond our own lifetimes.
And… it takes all of us.
Today, the Port stands before you as an economic engine for the region…
20 years after the BRAC announcement of 1995… today we are home to over 70 public- and private-sector customers.
They employ 12,000 workers… in aerospace… manufacturing… business services… logistics… and Department of Defense operations.
The Port’s economic impact is over 4 billion dollars each year… supporting thousands of additional jobs in this region.
As you see in the images surrounding us… in a couple of years we will celebrate 100 years since Kelly Field was established… back in 1917.
Over the past century… this has been a platform where innovation… hard work… and persistence have given birth to industries that have grown here.
In turn, those industries created good jobs that changed lives.
This is certainly the legacy of Kelly Air Force Base…
And it is certainly the legacy that the Port and our customers have built upon over the past 20 years.
There are many examples we can point to … so please know that the following list is far from complete…
But I do want to offer some powerful reminders of the Port as a place for building futures.
One of our first customers was a relatively small company by the name of ACS… Affiliated Computer Services.
The company… an offshoot of Lockheed Martin… brought 100 employees onto our property back in the year 2000. Those employees provided business support services to public and private sector clients… such as payment processing and customer service.
As the company grew, the Port worked hand-in-hand to accommodate its expansion.
By 2010, we upgraded a 90,000 sq. ft. facility that was once an Air Force warehouse and today is a state-of-the-art office building…
It’s building 43… to be precise… right on our front entrance at Hudnell.
It gave ACS space to hire additional personnel as the company grew.
Today, ACS is better known as Xerox, which acquired the business a few years ago.
Over the course of 15 years the operation that began with 100 employees has grown to over 1,000 employees today.
In addition to occupying a great facility, Xerox remained at the Port because well over half its workforce comes from the surrounding neighborhoods.
And this year…. Xerox renewed its lease at the Port by another five years.
But wait!…. That’s not all, folks.
In August, Xerox announced it is hiring up to 500 additional employees here at the Port to support new contracts and upcoming seasonal work.
It’s a great success story.
As with any business, the road was probably not always easy, either.
But a company leader who was here all that time… and who helped build that business… is still here.
Please join me in thanking Alex Camacho and his team… for their success… which has been a success for San Antonio!
Here’s another story.
In 2007, when we first launched our East Kelly Railport… a young logistics company called RLI took a chance on the Port…
The company specialized in the transfer of cargo from railcars to trucks to serve area industries… especially construction and manufacturing.
The operation began with two employees whose job was to secure contracts with businesses that would take a chance on them.
After a lot of hard work, business began to pick up transloading steel and lumber.
And then a little something called Eagle Ford Shale happened… and demand for quick transfer of huge volumes of equipment and supplies for oil and gas wells skyrocketed.
Our new customer had the space and flexibility to adapt to the fast-changing market.
And in the process… to keep up with demand… the Port partnered with Watco Companies to build and operate the additional rail infrastructure that was needed.
Today… that transload operation that began with two employees back in 2007 is known as CIG…
In eight years the operation has become one of our fastest-growing customers.
This year the company is set to quadruple annual volumes compared to its first full year of operations in 2008.
Together CIG and Watco have invested nearly 20 million dollars in rail… warehousing and storage infrastructure…
This adds tremendous value to our rail-served property and supports hundreds of additional jobs in the region: in energy exploration… construction… manufacturing… and hundreds of well- paid truck drivers who move that cargo throughout the region.
Can our friends from CIG and Watco please stand a to be recognized?
The most valuable lesson the closure of Kelly taught us is… the importance of adapting to change.
Change can be scary at first…
But with the right perspective… change means opportunities.
Just as the closure of Kelly during the 1995 BRAC brought uncertainty into the lives of thousands of San Antonians… the 2005 BRAC brought opportunity.
As all of you know… the 2005 BRAC relocated thousands of uniformed and civilian personnel to this region…
So in an unusual twist of fate… and with a lot of collaboration and hard work… the Port became a home to many of those incoming headquarters.
Thanks to over 60 million dollars in building upgrades managed by our construction team since 2008, today we are home to many important Air Force missions and 6,000 personnel.
Those workers include architects… engineers… attorneys… environmental scientists and cyber security experts.
The Lackland Annex facility spans over 700,000 sq. ft. of force-protected space just a few hundred feet from here.
It is home to the Air Force Medical Operations Agency… the Air Force Cyber Command… The Air Force Civil Engineer Center… Air Education and Training Command… Air Force Materiel Command and many others.
And our in-house team continues to provide great service to maintain and retrofit those properties as missions continue to grow and evolve.
We are honored here today with the presence of several Air Force representatives…
Friends… one of the reasons I love my new job is because I get to say cool lines like this:
The State of the Port is strong!
The industries based here are strong.
They are local… like our logistics customers who support retail and construction businesses.
They are national… like those who support the region’s shale industry… which is growing America’s energy independence.
And they are global… like the aerospace marquee names based here…
We are very fortunate to have those aerospace names here…
Many of them took a chance on us back in 1997…1998…1999…
They kept those large specialized facilities humming along… and thousands of Kelly workers employed.
Many of those companies are still here and help keep the largest air force in the world strong and ready…
They are also pursuing new opportunities in the dynamic commercial aerospace sector.
Over the past year… our team… our community partners… and our customers… We have devoted countless hours toward setting on a focused path to grow these industries… and grow jobs.
Right now… our customers… our partners at the City of San Antonio… and the Port are collaborating on capital projects that total more than $100,000,000.
This includes hangar and workshop upgrades to accommodate new aerospace projects.
It includes vital road… rail… electric and water infrastructure that increases productivity.
It includes $9,000,000 in roadwork by the City of San Antonio happening right now to extend 36th Street into the heart of the property…
It includes $6,000,000 from the City… the Port and the Economic Development Administration to prepare over 170 acres at Kelly Field for future hangar and workshop construction.
And as we modernize a century-old property… our customers prepare for growth in the century ahead.
I mentioned aerospace… and would like to recognize some of the people leading that effort.
We are joined by Dan Gonzales… part of StandardAero‘s local leadership team.
Dan actually was a Kelly man who joined one of the first private firms that arrived at the Port.
Under his watch, StandardAero has provided critical engine maintenance support to Air Force and U.S. Navy airplanes…
StandardAero… is actually a bit older than us. The global company… traces its origins to 1911…
Today it employs over 3,500 workers in over a dozen locations worldwide, including here.
In addition to maintaining military aircraft … StandardAero is a leading provider of engine support to airlines and cargo aircraft around the world…
And that’s an industry we’re excited to grow.
After all… you get to build an aircraft only once…
But you maintain it for decades.
As the world’s passenger and cargo aircraft fleet is expected to double within less than 20 years… there are over 100 thousand good maintenance jobs that will be created in North America.
Our job at the Port… is to work hand-in-hand with customers like StandardAero… Chromalloy and others to bring as much of that business as possible to this community.
We are not alone in that optimism.
Earlier this year, Boeing… which has operated at the Port for almost 20 years… redoubled its commitment to San Antonio and extended its lease with us by another 15 years.
As we look ahead in the aerospace sector… we want to create a powerful value proposition to airlines and air cargo operators.
We want to grow a one-stop center for aerospace.
We want to provide a place that creates value by offering quality work… and reducing time that an airplane is not in operation.
We see important opportunities where a single aircraft can be brought to Port San Antonio so our customers can work together on the range of services.
They already provide world-class support in airframe maintenance… engine maintenance… and interior completions.
And we can grow these offerings… to include landing gear… communications… electronic upgrades and other key support.
We’ve already started to grow these capabilities with the arrival of GoAeroMX… our newest aerospace customer.
GoAero specializes in avionics and cabin entertainment systems.
They create another compelling reason for operators to bring their aircraft to San Antonio for maintenance and upgrades.
Please join me in welcoming the GoAero team.
Friends… there’s obviously a lot going on here.
But it is no cliché to say that… we’ve only just begun.
Of our 1,900 acres… about 40% are fully developed.
The rest is land that holds the promise of future development… future business opportunities… and future jobs.
Reaching our full potential means doubling-down on our commitment to our customers today.
It also means attracting new customers that complement the work that is already happening here…
It is work with proven results… proven jobs… and a strong future.
So this is why… at our most recent board meeting… my team and I laid forth a vision that accelerates our work.
It is our commitment to you today… and to the community of San Antonio…
My team and I will work tirelessly to help create 5,000 new jobs at Port San Antonio by 2020.
It’s a big number.
To achieve it, we will continue working with our customers.
We will continue working hand-in-hand with our public partners.
We will continue to work with educators to ensure a flexible and well-prepared workforce.
We will lead the effort… and we will build and strengthen bridges of collaboration to make that vision reality.
Mayor Ivy Taylor has spoken often about creating and fostering activity centers throughout our community.
We think of the Port… which straddles the south and west sides of San Antonio… as one of those centers of economic gravity.
The Port is a center that has given a lot… and has a lot more to give San Antonio.
Our roots run deep here…
About 100 years’ deep, in fact.
So we guide our work to make sure that we positively impact the neighborhoods and people that immediately surround us… in places like the Thompson… Quintana and Palm Heights neighborhoods.
And we also guide our work to provide a strategic advantage to the entire San Antonio region…
The Port… your Port… is a unique platform that connects people from throughout the community with vibrant industries and exciting opportunities from around the corner… from around the country… and from and around the world.
With that, I’d like to share with you a short video we created that reminds us where we’ve come from… where we are… and where we’re headed.
It’s been quite a century for us.
We can’t wait for the next one to begin. Thank you.
*Top image: Port San Antonio’s President and CEO Roland C. Mower gives the State of the Port address. Photo courtesy of Port San Antonio.