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World Stem Cell Summit

The City is hosting the 10th annual World Stem Cell Summit (WSC) this week – it started Tuesday, December 2nd and ends tomorrow Friday December 4th. 1,400 attendees from 40 countries are expected to attend.  The Summit is the world’s largest meeting of researchers, scientists, clinicians, regulators, patient advocates and investors engaged in the field of stem cell research and therapies.

The field of regenerative medicine is key to growth in the City’s bioscience industry and the City is poised to capitalize on this opportunity by partnering with local companies like StemBioSys, Inc. (an San Antonio Economic Development Council (SAEDC) investment) and BioBridge Global, as well as research being conducted at Fort Sam Houston in the critical care arena.

The City and the SAEDC played a vital role in persuading the Stem Cell Summit to choose San Antonio for its annual conference. However, this was a community-wide effort that included support from partners like BioMed SA, UTSA and Texas Research & Technology Foundation.

In addition, there was substantial private sector support from local entities like StemBioSys, Incell and Targeted Technology.  Major sponsors of the WSC Summit include the UT Health Science Center, BioBridge Global, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and Southwest Research Institute.

For this year’s conference, the SAEDC worked with Summit organizers to hold its first Capital Markets Conference bringing stem cell companies and investors together for presentations and funding discussions. Three local companies will be presenting.

The City, SAEDF and Texans for Stem Cell Research hosted a welcome event on Tuesday evening at the Convention Center and last night at the Gala Dinner, Mayor Taylor presented a Proclamation to Bernard Siegel, Executive Director of the Genetics Policy Institute.

I believe the community’s impressive support led by a Host Committee chaired by Dr. Steve Davis and Linda Myers of BioBridge Global will convince the WSC Summit to return time and again to San Antonio.

Boarding Homes Update

The boarding home ordinance was approved by City Council on December 13, 2012, and went into effect on March 1, 2013.  The boarding homes ordinance is working as intended to ensure the safety of this vulnerable resident population

  •  2,173 properties investigated by the boarding home team since March 2013
  • 120 elderly and/or disabled residents are currently in safer living conditions due to the effectiveness of this ordinance
  • 110 Boarding homes identified – 21 still in operation, 89 have shut down
  • 16 currently in violation notice
  • 2 currently legally permitted
  • 3 more expected to complete permitting in December 2014
  • 7 emergency closures by the City due to major life safety violations
  • 4 shut down by City filing District Court Cases

The cost of installing sprinkler systems has reportedly decreased over the past year and therefore, more boarding homes are expected to soon be permitted this year.   Four properties are currently installing fire sprinkler systems with City permits.
The City will continue to enforce the ordinance through the civil and criminal court process to gain compliance or closure of each of the remaining boarding homes still operating illegally.

Express News Editorial

Please find a link to an editorial published today from the Express News regarding the City’s efforts on Collective Bargaining.

Garbage & Recycling Collection for Holiday Season

As we begin the holiday season, the City wants to remind residents that their recycling, organics recycling, and garbage collection will be affected during thanksgiving and the winter holiday season.

The collection schedule changes for the following four holidays:

  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day

For each of these holidays, the holiday collection day will move to either the day before the holiday or the day after the holiday.  Please visit the Solid Waste website at for a complete holiday schedule.

OPEN: Downtown Pop Up Retail Program

On December 3, 2013, the City of San Antonio, in partnership with private property owners, launched a Downtown Pop Up Retail Program called OPEN to activate vacant storefronts by offering retailers a short-term no-cost lease during the holiday season.

The innovative program activated four (4) empty storefronts along Houston Street, and allowed eight (8) local entrepreneurs the opportunity to test the downtown San Antonio market for the holiday season.

The City is thrilled to announce that over sixteen (16) small business owners will be participating this holiday season for the second annual OPEN program. The participating businesses will be announced at a December 2nd Press Conference at 11:30 am at 140 E. Houston (The Book Building).

The pop up shops will be located at four (4) locations along E. Houston Street and E. Travis Street.

Retailers will rotate storefronts to display everything from art, jewelry, pet accessories, clothing, and culinary treats this holiday season.  The pop up shops will be open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from December 2nd to the 30th.

The OPEN program will also include a new and exciting collaboration with Café Commerce which administers the Downtown Retail Loan Fund. The goal of the fund is to activate vacant storefronts along Houston and Commerce Streets as well as other downtown retail corridors.

Café Commerce, in conjunction with OPEN, will pop up in an empty storefront on E. Houston Street to help raise awareness of this dedicated loan fund to participating business owners and entrepreneurs looking to launch a new retail business in downtown San Antonio.

Downtown residents, visitors, and workers will all have an exciting opportunity to support local entrepreneurs and help validate that downtown is a vibrant urban space ready for long-term investment.

Library Update

I want to provide an update on our adult literacy initiative, which began with last year’s budget and is expanding this fiscal year.  Learn at SAPL, as we are branding the initiative, is an adult basic education program, provided jointly by the San Antonio Public Library and Department of Human Services

The program assists adult learners in pursuing or continuing their basic education needs, while also addressing barriers to meeting their goals.  The program currently operates out of the Westfall and Bazan branch libraries, with expansion to the Cortez and Carver branches coming on-line in January.  Each site offers the services of a dedicated Adult Education Teacher, a Social Service Case Manager, and a designated computer work area for client needs.

The complementary services of case management, social services, and one-on-one expert education assistance provide for tailored support to residents seeking to learn English, improve reading and writing, or earn a GED.

In the first month of operations at the two sites, 226 learners have been served in a one-on-one setting. In addition, information sessions and peer groups through the program have served more than 140 learners.  Staff has also provided over 50 sessions as part of the effort to reduce barriers to success by matching learners with social services.

Learn at SAPL will host two open houses next week: first at Westfall Library on Monday at 6 p.m., and second at Bazan Library on Wednesday, November 19, also at 6 p.m. You are all invited to attend and learn more about this new program.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Update

The San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau (SACVB) hosted its 2014 Annual Meeting on October 20th.  There were over 500 attendees at the meeting, which took place at the all-new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.  During the meeting, the latest numbers and research from the San Antonio Hospitality Economic Impact Study were revealed.

The study was prepared by Richard V. Butler, PH.D. and Mary E. Stefl, PH. D, professors at Trinity University.

New San Antonio travel and tourism economic impact highlights include:

  • $13.4 billion in economic impact
  • 31 million visitors annually to San Antonio
  • The industry provides more than 122,500 local jobs
  • Employs 1 out of every 8 workers in the San Antonio Metropolitan area
  • $183 million contributed in taxes and fees to the City of San Antonio
  • $348 million contributed to all local governments combined
  • $2.49 billion annual payroll
  • From 2003 to 2013, the economic impact has grown by 66%

Our thanks to Casandra Matej and the team at Convention and Visitors Bureau and all of our partners in the community.

Luminaria 2014

Luminaria 2014 will take place on November 7 – 8, 2014 from 6:00 p.m. – midnight.  The Opening Ceremony will be at 6:00 p.m. at the Main Stage off of Richmond, near the Indigo Hotel.

A map of the event will be featured in today’s Current newspaper. The map includes a schedule of performances, highlighting the musical and visual artists that are participating, as well as information on VIA’s Park and Ride.

Luminaria Convergence: San Antonio’s Festival of Ideas will begin at 10:00 a.m. on November 8, 2014 at Café Commerce.

Three forums will be held throughout the day, bringing together artists and civic leaders for a discussion and exploration of hot topics shaping the arts and cultural scene in San Antonio. Programs are free.

Health Update

Metro Health is one of 15 organizations throughout the country awarded a $9.4 million Healthy Start Grant.  The federal grant will span five years and will implement the Healthy Start initiative which aims to reduce disparities in infant mortality.

With this new funding, the San Antonio Healthy Start program will contribute to local, state, regional and national perinatal initiatives by:

  • Engaging three distinct high risk areas of San Antonio
  • providing case management to 1,000 participants annually (pregnant women and children) from pregnancy until the baby turns two years old
  • strengthen fatherhood engagement in pregnancy and parenting
  • partner with faith based organizations to conduct education classes
  • provide Community Health Worker training to Healthy Start participants,
  • integrate Healthy Start services with early intervention programs
  • and increase access to healthcare for families through Affordable Care Act enrollment

We look forward to the successful implementation and improving the quality of life for our residents from this grant opportunity.

United Way Make A Difference Day/Tree Planting Event

On Saturday October 25th, 49 volunteers from organizations across the community joined together to plant trees and beautify John James Park in District 2

The event was part of Make a Difference Day, the nation’s largest day of volunteerism, and the result of a continued partnership between our Parks and Recreation Department and the United Way.

Volunteers included groups from:
The Embassy Suites Riverwalk
Padgett Stratemann & Company
Methodist Healthcare Ministries
Trinity University
UTSA
Palm Heights Community Center Teen Club

The Parks Department team instructed volunteers on tree planting and gave a presentation about park stewardship and the importance of preserving the city’s tree canopy, and the United Way assisted in recruiting volunteers and registration on event day and approximately 70 new trees were planted.

We thank the United Way for their partnership and all of our volunteers for helping make John James Park shine.