Mario Hernandez, who served for 25 years as the president of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF), will retire from his post in June 2016, capping a 32-year career at EDF and more than 40 years in economic development work in San Antonio.
“Mario has been a leader and an advocate for San Antonio. His impact will be felt well into the future. As a result, the SAEDF is well-positioned to continue the legacy of promoting strong economic growth in our region,” SAEDF chairman Wayne Peacock said Thursday. “When you think about what Mario has done at EDF and the impact he has had on San Antonio over 32 years, we will definitely do something special to thank him. We just have to figure our what in the coming months.”
Peacock said Hernandez would continue to lead EDF into the middle of 2016, giving the board ample time to recruit his successor.
“Promoting the great city of San Antonio has been an extraordinary experience. I am grateful to the SAEDF visionary leaders, dedicated members and staff who I have had the wonderful privilege of working alongside to achieve our economic development goals,” Hernandez said. “San Antonio is a very different city with a very different and more diversified economy and job base than when I moved here in 1984.”
During Hernandez’s 25 years as president, the EDF release stated, SAEDF has assisted more than 420 companies with their location and/or expansion plans, creating more than 90,000 jobs in San Antonio.
“Mario Hernandez has been a major force in generating the greatest expansion of San Antonio’s jobs base in its history,” said Henry Cisneros, former SAEDF Chairman. “The last twenty years have been a period in which our economic development institutions under Mario’s leadership have produced consistent annual job growth and a trajectory of steady wage increases. The Economic Development Foundation under his stewardship has been awarded the highest national recognitions as the best economic development organization in the nation. Most importantly, Mario has contributed to elevating the well-being of hundreds of thousands of San Antonians.”
Former Toyota executive Dennis Cuneo, who led Toyota’s site search, stated, “Mario was the point person who put together the local Team Toyota during our site selection process that successfully resulted in bringing Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Texas to San Antonio. He played a key role in bringing Toyota to San Antonio.”
Hernandez is credited with leading an effort among SAEDF, the City, and the County to develop a five-year strategic plan focusing on business attraction and retention in “key areas of entrepreneurship and workforce.”
“I was fortunate to have met and hired Mario Hernandez at the start of his San Antonio career,” stated Palmer Moe, former SAEDF Chairman, senior Valero Energy executive and former CEO of the Kronkosky Foundation. Moe, along with former USAA CEO Gen. (ret.) Robert McDermott, a SAEDF founder, Bartell Zachry and other community leaders, led the search committee that hired Hernandez in 1990.
“I know the entire business community joins me in thanking him for everything he has done to help our city become a top performing city in America,” Moe stated.
In 2003 Hernandez was named National Economic Developer of the Year by the World Economic Development Alliance, and in 2008 he was named one of the top 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the nation by Hispanic Business Magazine.
A national search for Hernandez’s replacement will get underway.
“As you came imagine, we are at the early stages of putting a search together with a search committee composed of executive committee members, something we will have done within the next week,” Peacock said during a break in a USAA board meeting. “It’s my expectation we will use an external search firm. This is a very important hire for EDF, and we want to cast a wide net. I don’t know where the next candidate will come from, but I want to make sure we recruit the best possible leader to take EDF and San Antonio forward. I’m open to internal candidates as well.”
*Top image: San Antonio Economic Development President Mario Hernandez (second from right), at a recent San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event, poses with other business and civic leaders. Photo courtesy of SAHCC.