San Antonio needs to think strategically about the advantages it offers the aerospace industry to ensure it doesn’t lose a chunk of the sector to other places, a senior executive with Port San Antonio said at a chamber of commerce event last month.
Officials should consider further investment in facilities and the workforce, expanding the components of the aerospace industry the region excels in and competing on qualities other than price, according to Jim Perschbach, executive vice president for business development at Port San Antonio, the reuse project at the former Kelly Air Force Base.
The city specializes in maintenance, repair and overhaul, with a core competency in servicing aging types of airframes and engines, reported San Antonio Express-News. But it could strengthen its aerospace cluster by branching out to commercial paint application, satellite communications, landing gear and navigation, Perschbach said. The port is home to nearly 12,000 workers in the aerospace, manufacturing, logistics and DOD sectors.
“We have a skill set that I would put up against anywhere in the world for working on those platforms,” he said. “But when you look at newer aircraft coming online, newer engines coming on line, it’s an entirely new technology. And it’s going to require that we maintain that edge.”
Perschbach also highlighted the need for San Antonio to review the incentives it offers major employers, a tool that continues to play an oversized role in attracting aerospace companies.
“What are others doing? It’s big cash incentives, big infrastructure incentives, all targeted to employers who do three things: pay well, attract other employers and are in it for the long haul,” he said.
Through continued investment in its aerospace facilities and workforce development programs, the city could be in a position to guarantee the industry cluster never leaves the region.
“There is such a thing in industry as being too big to fail; and we need to make sure that whatever industry it is, whether it’s aerospace or cyber, whatever, it just can’t afford to pick up and leave,” Perschbach said.