Houston isn't the only Texas city with a booming medical center - San Antonio has a pretty good one, too. It's even surpassed tourism as the city's biggest industry, not too shabby considering it's a fairly recent artifact.
When Henry Cisneros became mayor in 1981, with military spending waning, he and other leaders began the first initiative to promote the biomedical industry. Two decades later, the former Clinton administration housing secretary has reignited that campaign.
As chairman of the economic development council of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Cisneros helped launch the Healthcare and Bioscience Development Corp. to lure medical enterprises and strengthen the local industry's four "pillars" — medical services, biomedical research, medical education and biosciences.
In 1992, health care and bioscience had an estimated annual impact of $6.4 billion, half the current level. By the end of the '90s, experts began noting a sea change.
A 2003 chamber study verified that medicine had supplanted tourism, which brings in about $7 billion a year, as the city's strongest industry.
"We're proud of our tourism base, and we've always relied on the military. Toyota represents a new manufacturing opportunity for us. But we think the long-term, lead engine for San Antonio's future are these four pillars," Cisneros said.
"When the BRAC process is finished, this will be — after the Walter Reed and Bethesda complex in the Washington, D.C., area — the lead complex for military medical education in the country," Cisneros said.
OK, I'm back. Cisneros is referring to Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall Medical Center, the former of which I was quite familiar with back in my days at Trinity - such are the side effects of having a roommate and best friend who is both a military brat and accident prone. We were also quite familiar with Fort Sam's PX and liquor store, but that's a tale for another day.
Anyway. It's a good story, so check it out.Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 15, 2005 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack