Monday, June 29, 2009

AT&T gone but not forgotten

By David Saleh Rauf - Express-News

In the 15 years AT&T called San Antonio home, it grew into one of the largest and most internationally recognized companies. And even after moving its headquarters, its presence is still felt in city policy, philanthropy and even real estate.

Today marks the first anniversary of AT&T's stunning announcement to move its headquarters from San Antonio to Dallas.

With it, the company plucked 700 high-paying jobs from the local economy, mostly top-level executives and support staff, and created a vacuum in the already slowing housing market.
But possibly the most significant impact the move had was the public relations black eye it stamped on the city's image.

“You never like to have bad news, and economic development is a lot about image and momentum,” said Mario Hernandez, president of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. “The announcement certainly took us back.”

The move has by no means crippled San Antonio, as the local economy continues to fare better during the recession than most other large metropolitan cities. City leaders also celebrate landing 1,400 professional-level jobs from Medtronic Inc. and another anticipated 400 jobs with the Air Force's choice to headquarter its new cyber command here.

One year later, city leaders say AT&T's relocation has served as a catalyst to revamp economic development strategy. In all, it shifted the focus to retaining jobs.

“It was just a wake-up call,” Mayor Juli├ín Castro said. “There's a greater appreciation for the jobs we already have and are determined to keep.” More here.

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