Cruz: Austin economy's next frontier could be boon for San Marcos

Austin's economy is hoping to take one small step now and, eventually, a giant leap forward.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce announced Jan. 28 that space technology and exploration will be the regions newest target industry.

Adriana Cruz, president of the Greater San Marcos Partnership, said the industry's entry into the area could be a win for San Marcos. The Greater San Marcos Partnership is responsible for economic development in Hays and Caldwell counties.

During our [2009] economic development strategy, aerospace and aviation was one of the target industry sectors that we identified as being important to the city of San Marcos and Hays and Caldwell counties, Cruz said. Now the Austin Chamber has announced that they, too, will be pursuing aerospace as a target industry sector, which we're very excited about.

The industry represents $314 billion in revenue annually, according to a Space Foundation study. The space technology and exploration industry includes satellites, launch providers, in-space services, spacecraft components, software and robotics.

In addition to partnering on recruiting trips and marketing campaigns aimed at attracting aerospace companies, Cruz said the Austin Chamber's announcement could mean increased regional collaboration among the cities of Austin and San Marcos as well as Hays and Caldwell counties.

The ability to partner together on another industry sector is going to help all of us, she said.

Cruz said the shared goal of attracting aerospace companies could mean employers who move to the area have access to the entire regions resources, including a new space entrepreneurship program at The University of Texas and the Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization program at Texas State University.

[San Marcos] has a clear strength because of the presence of some of our major employers, which of course include [aerospace and aviation firms] CFAN, UTC Aerospace and Mensor, Cruz said. We have workforce in particular areas of specialization who work well within the aerospace target.

The Greater San Marcos Partnership has been at work on a new economic development strategic plan for much of 2014, with the next phase to focus on identifying target sectors for the San Marcos region, she said.

Cruz will present the new target sectors for the Greater San Marcos region to San Marcos City Council on Feb. 3.

She said the target sectors are determined by considering industries that would be a good fit in the region when local workforce and existing resources, such as Texas State University and the San Marcos Regional Airport, are taken into account.

The target business analysis,performed by economic development advisor Market Street Services, recommended the city attract businesses in the fields of aerospace,business services and support, destination and attractions, materials sciences, information technology, life sciences, and regional distribution.