On Tuesday, May 7, the San Antonio Chamber and City of San Antonio were joined by representatives from the New American Economy and Welcoming America for an event to release a report on the economic impact of immigrants on San Antonio, followed by a discussion on the subject.
The public event was held at Launch SA and featured remarks by:
- Richard Perez, President & CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
- Justin Rodriguez, County Commissioner
- Ana Sandoval, San Antonio City Councilwoman
- Dr. Lloyd Potter, Interim Dean of the College of Public Policy at University of Texas at San Antonio
- Lisa Marie Gomez, Vice President for Education and Workforce Development at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
- Tino Gallegos, Immigration Liaison for the San Antonio Mayor’s Office
- Daniela Alvarez, Coordinator for Launch SA
- Daniel Valdez, Network Director at Welcoming America
- Kate Brick, Director of State and Local initiatives at New American Economy.
In addition to their financial contributions, including $531.7 million to Social Security and $134.5 million to Medicare in 2017, the report shows how critical immigrants are to San Antonio’s workforce. Immigrants make up a significant portion of several of the area’s most important industries, including 19 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers and nearly 23 percent of manufacturing and 35 percent of construction workers. Immigrants are creating jobs in San Antonio too – they account for 30 percent of all entrepreneurs in the city. The more than 17,000 immigrant entrepreneurs who call San Antonio home generated close to $360.7 million in business income in 2017.
The report was released as the City of San Antonio and the Chamber of Commerce bring together leaders across sectors to develop a strategic plan to ensure that San Antonio welcomes and harnesses the potential of all residents. San Antonio was one of 14 communities selected nationally for the 2019 Gateways for Growth award to receive research from NAE and technical assistance from NAE and Welcoming America to support this work.
“Immigrants’ contributions to our economic strength is part of the American success story, and San Antonio is a significant beneficiary of their economic power,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “This report demonstrates exactly how important immigrants’ contributions are to our city’s economy, particularly in STEM fields, manufacturing, construction, and entrepreneurship.”
”Our immigrant community has always been a part of San Antonio’s economic prosperity. It’s clear from the study that immigrants are directly contributing to our workforce and innovation in critical research. The Chamber has been a long-standing champion of comprehensive immigration reform, because we understand that providing opportunities for every member of our community to fully contribute is essential for sustained economic growth,” said Chamber President and CEO Richard Perez.
“While Washington continues to take backward steps on immigration, San Antonio knows firsthand the economic benefits of embracing it,” said Kate Brick, Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “This research underscores the value of a diverse community for a vibrant and competitive local economy, and supports San Antonio’s efforts to join other Texas cities in creating local policies that are inclusive, stimulate growth, and attract talent from across the globe.”
San Antonio has been involved with the New American Economy since New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the bi-partisan organization in 2010. International Bank of Commerce (IBC) CEO, Dennis Nixon; Ramiro Cavazos, former President and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber and now the President of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber; and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro were founding members of the New American Economy.
This week’s event was the beginning of a community-wide effort to develop a Welcoming Plan. In the coming months we will work to assemble a wide group of stakeholders from across the city to gather input and identify innovative local initiatives, programs, and policies that will make San Antonio a city where immigrants are welcomed and have the opportunity to fully integrate and contribute to our city’s vibrancy and resilience. UTSA, the Mexican Consulate, and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are early collaborators in the efforts.
If you would like to participate in this effort, please contact Belinda Garza Hartwig, Vice President of Economic Development at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Lisa Marie Gomez, Vice President of Education and Workforce Development, at email@example.com.
The full report is available for download here.