At an Aug. 23 meeting of the Greater New Braunfels Economic Development Foundation, speakers presented new updates on the Continental Automotive Systems facility's operations as well as initiatives to further develop economic partnerships within the Greater San Antonio region.

Juergin Martin, plant manager for the new Continental plant at 440 Kohlenberg Road, said the facility is still on track to open in September. The plant will manufacture products for advanced driver assistance systems, such as automated driving cameras and sensors for the development of autonomous vehicles. The company has hired more than 100 employees and expects to have more than 500 at the facility by the end of 2025.

Martin said among the reasons for locating a Continental plant in New Braunfels, the proximity of New Braunfels in relation to the rest of the United States and Mexico, the wealth of nearby universities and other various factors all contributed to New Braunfels landing the facility.

Most of the costs associated with the products that will be developed in New Braunfels is from safety testing, Martin said.

“We put in a tremendous effort in testing. I would say 60-70% of the costs we are putting into the product and the value is testing, testing, testing, testing. With visual controls, with cameras, with X-rays, with electric flow tests within circuit tests, with radar simulation tests and all the stuff around to ensure that you can rely on our products,” he said.

Greater: SATX Regional Economic Partnership

Sarah Carabias-Rush, chief economic development officer for Greater:SATX, a regional economic partnership that focuses on economic development in the eight counties that make up the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan statistical area, discussed attracting business to the region with the ultimate goal of job creation.

“In regionalism, we are playing catch up. We're not the first organization in the country to be looking at this,” Carabias-Rush said. “[The] Dallas Regional Chamber led this way back in 2004. Opportunity Austin has been at it for a very long time, as have organizations around the country and they do so, we do so because we know that as a whole we will drive more prosperity for all.”

Carabias-Rush, who previously spent 20 years in economic development in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said a lot of the work for the organization is not just attracting jobs to the area, but also jobs that fit the needs of the talent pool across the region.

“As an organization, we believe that with our focus on jobs and job creation that we should see and win in our community of about 30,000 new direct jobs that our organization will touch over our five-year strategic plan,” she said. “We anticipate that that will drive an additional 140,000 jobs within the community.”