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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
October 22, 2009

Comptroller Reports “Excellent” Economic Outlook for Alamo Region

(AUSTIN) — The economic outlook for the Alamo region is excellent, with its educational opportunities, health care sector and vibrant tourism industry ensuring continued growth, according to a new report from Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.

“Both statewide and regional employment growth are expected to accelerate in 2010 following slow growth this year,” Combs said. “Alamo regional employment should rise by 23 percent between 2003 and 2013, despite the current economic slump.”

Combs’ new report, Texas in Focus: Alamo, indicates employment in educational and health services should lead all industries in growth at 44 percent through 2013; the construction sector is also expected to add jobs each year, with employment rising by 38 percent from 2003 to 2013. The region can also expect growth in trade, transportation and utilities (19 percent), the leisure and hospitality industry (33 percent), and agriculture, natural resources and mining (28 percent).

The occupations with the most projected job openings include retail sales, customer service representatives, personal and home care aids, military, real estate, registered nurses, elementary school and college teachers and bookkeeping and accounting.

In the midst of an economic recession, the Alamo region’s unemployment rate is lower than statewide and national levels.

The Alamo region consists of 19 counties in the south-central portion of the state, stretching from the ports and beaches of the gulf coast to the Hill Country west of San Antonio. It includes the cities of San Antonio, Seguin, New Braunfels, Kerrville, Fredericksburg and Victoria. Though 88 percent of the population lives in or near San Antonio, which dominates the regional economy, the Victoria area and the region’s non-metro counties have thriving economies of their own.

Health services and the military drive the San Antonio economy. Businesses that manufacture metals, chemicals and plastic products are concentrated around Victoria, attracted by ports and easy access to materials. The region’s rural counties thrive on agriculture and tourism, through such attractions as historic sites, missions, state parks, river adventures and a wide variety of festivals and activities showcasing the region’s diverse culture and heritage. The counties in the Alamo Region are Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Calhoun, Comal, De Witt, Frio, Gillespie, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Jackson, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, Lavaca, Medina, Victoria and Wilson.

Between 2008 and 2013, the region's population should increase by 1.7 percent, about the same growth rate as the rest of the state. However, three counties were among the nation's 100 fastest growing counties from 2000 to 2008: Comal (40.5 percent), Kendall (38.5 percent) and Guadalupe (31.6 percent). The Alamo region is majority Hispanic, at 50.5 percent of the population, followed by Anglos at 40.1 percent and African Americans at 5.9 percent. The population statistics are heavily influenced by San Antonio. In the region’s non-metro areas, the population is 61.5 percent white, 31.6 percent Hispanic and 5.4 percent black. The population is young, with 38 percent of San Antonio residents and about 32 percent in the non-metro counties under 25 years old.

Enrollment at the University of Texas at San Antonio has risen by nearly 51 percent since fall 2000, while enrollment at the University of Houston-Victoria rose by 87 percent during that period. Both schools are growing much faster than the statewide average of 22.8 percent, giving the region a steady supply of well-qualified workers.

Texas in Focus: Alamo is the seventh report in Combs’ Texas in Focus series designed to equip local decision makers and business leaders with vital information to help plan for economic growth. The full report can be found on the Comptroller’s Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/tif/alamo.

From the report…

San Antonio is home to several military bases, including the Army’s Fort Sam Houston and Lackland and Randolph Air Force bases. Fort Sam Houston is the headquarters for the Army’s medical command and because of its numerous medical training programs, it employs about 27,000 and trains more than 25,000 students annually. Due to federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), Fort Sam Houston is undergoing a major expansion, gaining more than 12,000 jobs by 2011. It will team up with Lackland and Randolph Air Force bases to operate the U.S. military’s largest hospital. The San Antonio Military Medical Center will train all newly enlisted military medics.

San Antonio’s enormous health services industry generated $9.9 billion in economic activity in 2007 and provides jobs to one out of seven workers. The Greater San Antonio area is home to 24 of the Alamo region’s 47 hospitals, the University of Texas Health Science Center, Brooke Army Medical Center — with its renowned burn center — and Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force base. Victoria is second in the region with four hospitals.

About 9.4 percent of Texas public school students attend school in the Alamo region, where 86.2 percent of its campuses are rated Academically Acceptable or better. The region exceeds the state average for Exemplary ratings and falls below the statewide average for districts rated Academically Unacceptable. The Alamo region has 16 institutions of higher education, with campuses or facilities in six of the region’s 19 counties. Overall, higher education enrollment in the region increased 31.7 percent from 2000 to 2008.

The region contains two major trade corridors, both of which run through San Antonio: Interstate Highway 35, between the U.S. and Mexico, and Interstate Highway 10, travelling east to west across eight states. These arteries will continue to make San Antonio a critical trade center and boost the entire region’s economy.

The Alamo region produces a wide range of agricultural products. The total cash value of the region’s agriculture industry in 2007 was more than $1.35 billion. Urban Bexar County is the biggest crop producer in the region, because of its nurseries and greenhouses. Gonzales County produces the biggest share of the livestock. Some areas are famous for particular crops: Frio County specializes in peanuts, as does Floresville in Wilson County; Seguin has been called the pecan capital of Texas; and Fredericksburg and Stonewall in Gillespie County produce the popular Hill Country peaches, a crop worth $4.8 million in 2007. The Alamo region is increasingly known as wine country, with 16 grape-producing counties and 71 vineyards. Gillespie County alone has 12 vineyards, making it the region’s leading producer.

The region has abundant water resources, but also faces increasing water demand. The San Antonio area has historically depended entirely on the Edwards Aquifer for its water supply, placing a growing strain on that source. Meeting the demand for water will be one of the region’s top concerns in the next decade.

The Comptroller’s office can help local governments generate economic growth by providing information on demographics, labor force statistics and other economic factors. For more information visit www.window.state.tx.us/texasedge.


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