Westside business owners gathered Friday, March 29th to attend Westside Development Corporation’s (WDC) kick-off “Westside Business Alliance” (WBA) meeting focused on improving opportunities and preserving legacy businesses in 10 corridors in San Antonio – Buena Vista, Castroville Rd., Colorado, Commerce, Culebra, Guadalupe, General McMullen, Laredo, Nogalitos and Zarzamora.
District Five Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales officially began the program in January 2018 after funding was secured to support the program. “My goal is to help organize strong Corridor alliances so they can work proactively together to grow their enterprises as development occurs in the area. District 5 has hundreds of small businesses that are the real engines of growth and new jobs. There are countless legacy businesses on the Westside that have provided goods and services for more than 50 years. And there is room for entrepreneurs to start exciting new businesses,” says Gonzales. WDC staff and volunteers canvassed the Westside to inform business owners of the City of San Antonio District Five “Legacy Corridor” initiative and advertise the first meeting on all 10 corridors.
At the kick-off meeting, WDC President/CEO Leonard B. Rodriguez warned attendees of gentrification that threatens to displace legacy businesses (defined as businesses in operation ten years or longer) by not only raising property taxes but changing the cultural fabric of historic Westside communities. Rodriguez shared a humorous “Gentrification Bingo” slide that listed warning signs like “white people on bikes”, “freelance nomads” and “artisanal anything.” The slide gathered many a smartphone photo from the approximately 40 attendees, which included initiative partners People Fund, City of San Antonio (COSA) Office of Historical Preservation, COSA Development Services and UTSA Small Business Development Center-Institute of Economic Development and Liftfund. The work of the partnerships is to leverage economic development affiliate resources in support of Westside Business Alliance endeavors, providing members with key resources needed to stay competitive in the face of unprecedented business development on the Westside. These developments include the UTSA downtown campus expansion, Zona Cultural, the Near West Opportunity Zones and Westside Creeks Restoration Project, each of which has the capacity not only to increase business traffic and profits in years to come but also sooner, deter customers with increased project construction. Both scenarios require a strategic approach to ensure that legacy business owners are aware of the increasing commercial property value of their businesses tomorrow and are equipped with the necessary tools to deal with construction that could have the capacity to interrupt the ongoing flow of business today.
Gonzales is hopeful the initiative will benefit the legacy businesses from her own experience as a small business owner. “As the owner of a 60-year old firm and a three-term council member, I know the city can lend its support by streamlining permits, providing needed infrastructure and promoting the business corridors to the entire community. I am pleased that WDC has taken up the challenge and look forward to the project’s long-term success,” she said. The Westside Business Alliance initiative will result in policy recommendations to Council District Five and serve as a hopeful pilot for similar endeavors for other San Antonio business corridors.
For more information about the Westside Business Alliance, please visit https://westsidedevcorp.com/legacy-corridor-business-alliance/ or call 210-501-0192.