Economic impact and employment
The military is an important source of employment for the City of San Antonio and the broader region. Aggregating employment across these multiple locations, an estimated 132,000 jobs are directly attributed to the U.S. Department of Defense. That direct employment also helps generate additional indirect and induced jobs. Initial numbers from the updated study indicate that the military presence now generates approximately 212,000 jobs in the city.
The military also plays a key role in supporting a wide variety of non-military industries across San Antonio. The Department of Defense awarded $4 billion in local contracts in San Antonio in 2011, including $1.5 billion to SA2020 targeted industries of aerospace, biosciences/healthcare and information technology and cybersecurity.
The City should also explore policies, programs, and partnership opportunities to help harness and promote the synergy of intellectual and physical property in the area. There are unrealized opportunities to link military assets and training opportunities with research projects and advanced training in the higher education, medical and civilian sectors.
While San Antonio greatly benefits from the creation of jobs due to the military’s presence, it must also be cognizant of employment gaps present in veteran and spousal employment. Between 2010 and 2014 an estimated 5.32% of veterans aged 18-65 years were unemployed. With a growing number of veterans retiring in San Antonio action must be taken to ensure that an acceptable unemployment rate of between 4.5% and 5.5% is not exceeded. Additionally, services must be implemented to help military spouses find off base employment.
Finally, although the city and JBSA installations actively work to maintain missions, or even attract new ones, it is prudent to plan for potential impacts that may occur if our bases are negatively affected by future base realignment or closure issues. When possible, the City should work with JBSA to consider how new or renovated building and facilities can be built with future, non-military uses in mind. While supporting current missions is always our top priority, we should take advantage of opportunities to envision the potential adaptive reuse of military installation buildings.