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
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.

Library Update

Last Tuesday, the San Antonio Public Library, in partnership with our Aviation Department, unveiled new digital library kiosks at the San Antonio International Airport.  The two Digital Library kiosks – one in each terminal – are the first of their kind in an airport. These kiosks Allow the Library’s content to be accessed on personal mobile devices.

The Library has partnered with Overdrive, the worldwide leader in full-service digital media distribution, to produce the kiosks.  San Antonio Public Library cardholders visiting a Digital Library kiosk can quickly access the Library’s entire digital collection via a 55-inch interactive screen.

Additionally, the Library has debuted the first-ever temporary Library card feature, available from OverDrive, for out-of-town visitors or for residents who do not yet have a San Antonio Public Library card.  As an added feature for travelers, the kiosks provide rapid recharging for a wide range of mobile devices.

The digital library kiosks are graciously funded in partnership with the Friends of the San Antonio Public Library, and we thank them for their continued support.  This project exemplifies the City’s Core Values of Teamwork and Innovation.

Women in the World Recap

On October 22nd San Antonio hosted Women in The World a national/international event by Tina Brown Live Media,  drawing speakers from all over the world – thought leaders, change makers, celebrities and politicians to address a sell-out crowd.

600 Individuals attended the forum in the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre to hear panels and interviews on issues impacting women from Honor Killings, the Middle East, Ebola, military families, and a number of other Critical issues that impact women and Society.

The San Antonio forum featured Dr. Jill Biden; Gloria Steinem; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison; Ambassador Karen Hughes; Mayor Ivy Taylor; Diane von Furstenberg, Former White House Advisor Sonya Medina Williams; author and journalist Marie Brenner; art patron and activist Aaronetta Pierce; President of 3N Group Guillermo Nicolas; Eva Longoria; Houston Mayor Annise Parker; Rosie Castro, Congressman Joaquin Castro, myself (CM) and others.

Media attending the event included Fusion TV (ABC/Univision), the Daily Beast, and writers for a number of other outlets.  The Forum’s presenting sponsor was Toyota, and leadership sponsors were the City of San Antonio and Credit Suisse.

Bond Refunding Transaction

I wanted to provide you preliminary information regarding the General Obligation refinancing transaction that City Council approved parameter sale authorization for on October 9th for interest cost savings.

The Bonds are planned to be priced the week of November 17th by a syndicate led by Siebert Brandford Shank as Senior Book Running Manager, Frost National Bank as Co-Senior Manager, and RBC Capital Markets and Southwestern Capital Markets as Co-Managers.

The refunding transaction is estimated to produce total savings of $7,168,632 with annual savings estimated at $550,000 in FY 2015 and an average of $661,000 per year from FY 2016 though FY 2025.   Net present value savings on the transaction is estimated to be $6,540,258 or 11.62% of the refunded obligations.

Coastal Securities, Inc. and Estrada Hinojosa & Company, Inc. are serving as Co-Financial Advisors, and Bracewell & Giuliani LLP and LM Tatum, PLLC are serving as Co-Bond Counsel.

Closing and delivery for the Bonds is anticipated on Tuesday, December 16th.  This refinancing of our debt reflects our on-going proactive debt management and provided an excellent opportunity for interest cost savings.

Since April 2012, the City has completed 6 refunding transactions for interest cost savings resulting in total gross savings of $47.3 million and net present value savings of $39.3 million.

American Dental Event

As reported in the Sunday edition of the Express News, last week the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center hosted the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Annual Meeting from Oct. 9-14th.

One of our largest events, ADA had over 20,000 attendees and utilized every space at the Convention Center. The exhibit floor spanned all four halls with a total of 550 exhibits and required over 1.5m pounds of freight transported in and out of the building.

Their meeting even utilized the Alamodome for their Opening General Session which was attended by 10,000 participants who gathered to hear Keynote Speaker, former President George W. Bush.

But the ADA Annual Meetings contribution to San Antonio was more than just their economic impact, the ADA also conducted a local community outreach to provide free dental care to over 1,200 through their Mission of Mercy program.