Doing Business in San Antonio

Photo credit: Sebastián Betancourt via / CC BY

Weighing in as the seventh largest city in the U.S. and the second largest city in Texas, San Antonio has an estimated population of over 1.3 million with an almost even distribution between male and female citizens. According to city’s Economic Development Department, San Antonio is the “model city for the new face of America—a diverse, progressive and globally competitive city with a solid vision for national and international economic development.” It’s previously been ranked Number 1 on the Milken Institute’s “Best Performing Cities” list, in addition to consistently maintaining a AAA general obligation bond rating. With a strong cultural history thanks to the Alamo and its rich Texas heritage, San Antonio has a lot to offer for both tourists and business professionals.

Photo credit: Sebastián Betancourt via / CC BY
Port San Antonio (PSA). Photo credit: Sebastián Betancourt via / CC BY

Leading Industries

San Antonio’s booming business climate is led by a few main industries including Healthcare and Bioscience, Aerospace, Information Technology and Cybersecurity, and New Energy. Not to mention, the city’s prime location near the Gulf of Mexico and between the east and west coasts make it great for international trade, especially thanks to Port San Antonio. San Antonio has also designed a program entitled “Business, Retention and Expansion (BRE),” which is meant to:

  • Retain and expand local business in key industry clusters
  • Encourage job growth in the local corporate base
  • Provide technical assistance to local companies

Read on for a closer look at each of San Antonio’s leading industries, and for even more information, visit the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.

Healthcare & Bioscience

It’s been reported that nearly 1 out of every 6 citizens of San Antonio work in the Healthcare and Bioscience related field. Two of the most recognized employers in this field includes global leader Medtronic and BD (Becton, Dickinson & Company). The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) reported that “the economic impact of the Bioscience and Healthcare industry was more than $23.9 billion measured conservatively or $30.6 billion by a more comprehensive estimate” during 2013.


Reports from the SAEDF have shown that the city’s aerospace industry has grown over 400% in the past 25 years. Most aerospace and aviation related companies are centered around Port San Antonio and the San Antonio International Airport. Major names with offices in the area include Boeing and Lockheed Martin Commercial Industry Solutions. In total, it’s estimated that more than 13,000 employees work in the “combined aerospace-related maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO), manufacturing, military, and air transportation services industry.”

Information Technology and Cybersecurity

In today’s digital age, it’s unsurprising to hear that information technology and cybersecurity plans a huge role in San Antonio’s local economy. With more than 34,000 IT professionals, the industry brought in close to $10 billion in economic impact during 2014. There’s also a number of federal agencies located in the area: the 24th Air Force, the Air Force Cyber Command, and the Air Education and Personnel Command are headquartered in San Antonio, in addition to many others with missions in cybersecurity including the 25th Air Force, FBI, National Security Agency (NSA), The Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division, U.S. Army North, U.S. Army South, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Navy, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

New Energy

In terms of resources, the region is very committed to finding sustainable energy options to help build a cleaner future. SA Tomorrow, better known in the area as “The Sustainability Plan,” was formed in 2011 as a “roadmap for enhancing [San Antonio’s] quality of life and overall resilience while balancing the impact of our expected growth with existing economic, environmental, and social resources.” San Antonio is also home to CPS Energy, which is the largest municipally owned, vertically integrated electric and gas utility in the U.S.. CP Energy covers an 1,515 square mile service area, supplies more than 900 jobs, and is responsible for over $1.5 billion in annual economic impact.

Photo credit: Howdy, I'm H. Michael Karshis via / CC BY
Rackspace—Headquarters in San Antonio. Photo credit: Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis via / CC BY

Largest Employers

In addition to the leading industries, the following are the 10 largest employers with their corporate headquarters located in the San Antonio area (numbers indicate amount of local employees):

  1. H-E-B (Super Market Chain) – 20,000
  2. USAA (Financial Services & Insurance) – 17,000
  3. Cullen/Frost Bankers (Financial Services) – 3,982
  4. Bill Miller Bar-B-Q (Fast Food Chain) – 3,540
  5. Rackspace (IT Managed Hosting Solutions) – 3,300
  6. CPS Energy (Utilities) – 3,022
  7. Toyota Motor Manufacturing (Auto Manufacturing) – 2,900
  8. Clear Channel Communications, Inc. (TV & Radio Stations, Outdoor Ads) – 2,800
  9. Southwest Research Institute (Applied Research) – 2,715
  10. Valero Energy (Oil Refiner & Gasoline Mktg.) – 1,653

Other major regional employers in the San Antonio area include the following:

  1. Lackland Air Force Base (Military) – 37,097
  2. Fort Sam Houston-U.S. Army (Military) – 32,000
  3. H-E-B (Super Market Chain) – 20,000
  4. USAA (Financial Services & Insurance) – 17,000
  5. Northside I.S.D. (School District) – 12,751
  6. Randolph Air Force Base (Military) – 11,068
  7. North East I.S.D. (School District) – 10,052
  8. City of San Antonio (San Antonio) – 9,145
  9. Methodist Healthcare System (Heath Care Services) – 8,118
  10. San Antonio I.S.D. (School District) – 7,000
San Antonio Skyline. Photo credit: Katie Haugland via / CC BY

Workforce & Local Demographics

In 2015, the total civilian workforce in San Antonio amounted to about 1.1 million with an unemployment rate of 3.8%. In Bexar County, more than 71% of the workforce is caucasian, 7.9% is African American, 2.7% is Asian, and the remaining percentage incorporates Native Hawaiian, American Indian, a mixture of two or more races, and others. With such varying of demographics, 37.5% of the population speaks Spanish and English, while 58.8% speak English alone. On average, the median age in San Antonio is 34.1, and the median household income in 2014 came in at $46,317—lower than the U.S. national median income at $53,482.


Located in the “heart of Texas,” San Antonio can be found in the south central part of the state in what’s known as the American Southwest. The city is only 140 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, 80 miles from Austin, 280 miles from Dallas, and just 200 miles from Houston to the east. As already touched on, San Antonio is home to Port San Antonio and the San Antonio International Airport. Additionally, the city has another airport, Stinson Airport, which is the second oldest generation aviation airport in the U.S.. The area also as an established rail system, and three major interregional highways.

Editor’s note: Facts and statistics from City of San Antonio and San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF).