Zac Harris is everywhere these days. We first met when I spoke to his Leadership San Antonio class at the Pearl last year, but since then, anywhere I go, there’s Zac, already there. He seems to be everywhere, the ultimate networking entrepreneur, typical of the new class of young professionals in San Antonio engaged 24/7 in urban transformation. If there is line between their work lives and their social lives, it is seldom visible.
After graduating with a construction sciences degree from Texas A&M, Harris came to San Antonio to work for Joeris General Contractors on a number of big projects, including the Pearl redevelopment. Now he’s formed his own development and project management firm, Core Continuum, and is getting ready to build the new near-Eastside brewery and brewpub for Alamo Beer. Harris also is a board member of the fledgling startup LOOP, Leadership Organization of Professionals.
Zac’s wife, Brooke, is the owner of Fresh Urban Flowers on lower Broadway, another new business that blends the sale of artistic flower arrangements with art exhibitions and social gatherings. Together, they are exactly the kind of driven, talented young professionals that Mayor Julián Castro and SA2020 CEO Darryl Byrd are recruiting to take ownership of making this the Decade of Downtown.
Where will Zac and Brooke Harris be Saturday morning? At the TriPoint YMCA, getting into the mix of the SA2020 one year progress report and the launch of the next big phase.
By Zac Harris
Hello San Antonio,
I am glad to have been a part of bringing this SA2020 process to life and I am excited about what the possibilities hold for our “Big City, Small Town” in the future. Brooke and I, not to mention thousands of other “SA2020 investors,” were asked by organizers to respond to four key questions in preparation for the mass gathering this weekend at the TriPoint YMCA. We were invited by The Rivard Report to share our thoughts with the whole city on how we see San Antonio progressing. Here goes:
Question No. One: What does San Antonio look like to you in the year 2020 when we reach all of our goals?
Most educated population regardless of financial or social status.
Amazing vibrant and walkable urban core as well as increased connectivity (user friendly transportation) throughout all parts of San Antonio.
A community that is 100% behind the entrepreneur and start-up mentality. Great economically sustainable cities are held together with an ecosystem of local businesses that have been created out of the drive, focus, and perseverance of its own community. Small business creates more jobs than any other and this should be fostered on an intense level.
Question No. Two: What are you most passionate about in SA2020?
Without being economically competitive we will slowly lose our place as one of Americas great cities. Sustainable economics will be what drives our ability to attract and retain the innovative workforce we will need to compete in the world economy. We must engage our entire city and not just certain pockets. This will be the biggest challenge but will have the best results if all neighborhoods are treated equally in the hunt to become the economic powerhouse of 2020’s economy.
Arts & Culture
No great community can be so without a vibrant arts & culture scene. San Antonio has such a rich history and culture that we just need to focus on fostering the creative spirit to expand our foothold in the arts world.
—And most of all—
This will be what ensures we have the right tools to capture the economic advantages and Arts & Culture that will bring a high quality of life to our city.
Question No. Three: What are you doing now to create the SA2020 you imagine?
I am working on a few things that will help in creating the San Antonio I imagine in 2020.
I co-founded Core Continuum Group – a company focused on Collaborative Community Development that will be working to bring Quality of Life projects to San Antonio that help create a sense of place that we can all relate to. These projects can include: Housing, Music Entertainment, Nightlife, Restaurants, Art Galleries, TV Programming, and Outdoor Spaces.
My wife Brooke owns and operates a small business in downtown. It’s a floral design studio called Fresh Urban Flowers. She creates amazing artistic floral for many different clients and our design studio also doubles as an art space for local artist looking to get their name out to the community.
I am a founding Board member of an amazing organization called LOOP – Leadership Organization of Professionals. Our mission is to attract and retain young professionals to San Antonio and are dedicated to integrating our members into every aspect of San Antonio from Politics & Education to Entrepreneurship and the Art Our motto: Engage. Lead. Transform.
Question No. Four: What changes do you already see that you would like to strengthen?
I am excited to see the momentum over downtown development. The HemisFair Park redevelopment will be an amazing amenity for our community citizens and for everyone who visits. Also the push for more complete streets will be a huge progression towards making our core more walkable.
What I would strengthen is efforts to keep in mind that to truly have an amazing, vibrant downtown we cannot forget the immediate neighborhoods that have called our urban core home for many years. These neighborhoods will be the lifeblood of the downtown because this is where San Antonian’s will want to call home and benefit from having a world class downtown at their backdoor. East, west, south and north of downtown are true gems and we must redevelop with the same enthusiasm and intensity that we have other areas of town.
San Antonio is at a plateau looking out at what it can become by 2020. We as a community must put our differences aside and focus our efforts to make our community the best place it can be for everyone. This includes our kids, our neighbors next door and our neighbors from all parts of the city. We also must look to become a city that others from around the state, country and world will want to be attracted to for family and future business growth. Open up, San Antonio, and you will find many talented and community driven people who are willing to engage and support this cause if we allow them the opportunity.
This is our chance to put a mark on San Antonio’s history. How will we be talking about this time in 2050? How will our kids and grandkids be affected if we do not work towards bringing our community together to make the best San Antonio that we can imagine?
It is up to us to make this happen. BE BOLD! Those who show up and engage should run this world. So, I have to ask you, what are you doing to Engage, Lead and Transform San Antonio? Join us—Disruptive Progress is needed to challenge the status quo.
Follow Zac Harris on Twitter at @zacharrisofsatx. Follow Brooke Harris at @sabloomie.