By Sara Reyes
The Westside Development Corporation (WDC) Board of Directors has named Ramiro Gonzales as President and CEO, effective last Tuesday, September 1, 2020. Gonzales is a life-long resident of San Antonio, attended Edison High School, and graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The Westside Development Corporation board of directors is extremely pleased with the selection of Ramiro Gonzales as its new president,” said Joe Carreon, WDC Board Chairman. “Ramiro brings many years of economic development experience and first-hand knowledge of city government to this position. This experience and his understanding of the needs and challenges of the near Westside will benefit the WDC’s mission of fostering economic development, helping to create more vibrant urban communities while focusing on preserving the char- acter and rich history of the area.”
An accomplished executive and frequent speaker on issues of community investment and redevelopment, Gonzales has a long history of community transformation initiatives. Gonzales previously served 15 years with the City of San Antonio and helped to facilitate over $80 million of public investment in urban redevelopment projects with the Center City Development and Operations Department. As an advocate for creatively leveraging real estate for the benefit of existing communities, he has initiated several non- profit endeavors, such as a program to build accessory dwelling units for vulnerable families and an effort called Good Acres to help churches reimagine their surplus property to solve community problems. Gonzales is also the Managing Partner of Urban Lazarus Partners, a small real estate investment group, and serves on multiple boards including the Midtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, San Antonio Afford- able Housing, and OURSA (Office of Urban Renewal of San Antonio).
Since February, Gonzales has served as Interim CEO for the Westside nonprofit. After only a few weeks on the job, Gonzales found himself leading the organization remotely through the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, WDC was one of the first organizations to pivot its offerings to respond to the immediate needs of small businesses by offering small COVID relief grants and connecting with over 400 businesses within weeks of the out- break.
Under his leadership, WDC established the Westside Small Business Helpline which has served more than 600 local small businesses, directed them to over $1.3 million in Bexar County grants, shepherd- ed hundreds through the federal PPP program, and block-walked over 60 miles through westside corridors to reach as many businesses as possible. WDC is now working with the City of San Antonio on additional community outreach and in creating a local business and resource hub as part of the city’s Recovery and Resiliency Plan for CO- VID-19.
Gonzales’ most immediate priorities for the organization are the continued support of westside small businesses during this pandemic and through recovery, and to also develop a long-term, post- COVID economic development strategic plan for the Westside. “This plan will be developed by our westside community, stake- holders, and partners, and its implementation will become the focus of the WDC for at least the next 5 years,” Gonzales said. “I am honored to be selected for this opportunity at this critical time. I look for- ward to working with the community and other area organizations to do this work together to improve the quality of life for our residents and businesses.”
For more information on the Westside Development Corporation, please visit their website at www. westsidedevcorp.com
The Westside Development Corporation is a City of San Antonio delegate agency, nonprofit organization, and local government corporation responsible for attracting new business and assisting existing business in the Westside of San Antonio. The organization has been responsible for foster- ing economic development, promoting the develop- ment and redevelopment of real estate, creating viable urban communities, and preserving the character, culture, and history of San Antonio’s Westside. For more information about the WDC please visit WestsideDevCorp.com, “Like” us on Facebook at https:// www.facebook.com/pages/ Westside-Development- Corporation/ or follow us on Twitter @westsidedevcorp