Assembling aircraft at Kelly field, circa 1918.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS—On April 5, 1917 instructor pilot Eddie Stinson and three military aviators flew four Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” aircraft from San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston and landed them on a new airfield to the city’s southwest—acreage that just months earlier had been agricultural land.
This was the first aviation operation at Kelly Field, and it launched an era of vast technological advancement and economic growth for the Alamo City. Over the next century, Kelly Field became the backbone of Kelly Air Force Base and, subsequently, Port San Antonio and JBSA-Lackland. In that time, hundreds of acres around the airfield emerged as a platform creating thousands of jobs in industries that to this day power South Texas, including defense, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and global logistics.
On April 5, 2017, the one-hundredth anniversary of the first flights into Kelly Field—Port San Antonio ushered a new era that will drive increasing activity on its 1,900-acre campus—and throughout the region—across the twenty-first century.
Conceptual rendering of Port San Antonio’s upcoming facility to host additional cybersecurity and other advanced technology operations.
That morning, Port and community leaders broke ground at the site of Project Tech. The much-anticipated effort by the base redevelopment organization will strategically grow its support for San Antonio’s already thriving cybersecurity community.
Thanks to the region’s large military presence, San Antonio is home to an array of Department of Defense security operations. These have attracted private-sector firms that support military clients and are increasingly applying their cybersecurity expertise in the commercial sector, including aviation, medicine, finance, telecommunications and other mature industries.
More than 1,000 cybersecurity experts—uniformed and civilian—are employed by the Air Force within the Port San Antonio campus.
Since 2009 the 24th Air Force, part of the U.S. Cyber Command, has maintained its national headquarters and over 1,000 personnel within a secured perimeter on the Port campus. As a result, private firms that include Booz Allen Hamilton, IPSecure, IOMAXIS, Fidelis Cybersecurity, General Dynamics and Radiance Technologies have opened facilities at the Port to support both military and commercial clients. In addition to the 24th Air Force, they serve other cyber and intelligence operations in the region, including the 25th Air Force, located at JBSA-Lackland across from the Port, and the National Security Agency’s NSA Texas facilities a few minutes to the north.
Breaking ground for first Project Tech building — April 5, 2017.
The Port and leaders that included San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and District 4 City Councilman Rey Saldaña and guests broke ground for a 90,000-square-foot facility in the heart of the Port near the intersection of General Hudnell Dr. and General McMullen Blvd. This $20 million building, to be completed in 2018, will be Project Tech’s first facility and anchor a planned office development that could total over half a million square feet across 17 acres.
Project Tech will add new facilities specifically suited to meet the growing needs of cybersecurity operations and complementary industries and will be supported by the city’s capital expense funding of $1.5 million to pay for public infrastructure improvements for the site, which will be considered by the city council on April 13.
“Superior know-how has been the bedrock of America’s growth in the past century and created the world’s largest economy,” said Port President and CEO Roland Mower during the ceremony. “By offering an innovative space that better enables like-minded individuals to work together toward shared goals in cybersecurity and other advanced technologies, we are sharpening San Antonio’s globally-competitive edge,” he added.
“A lot has been happening at the Port as we continue to serve the San Antonio community,” said Port Board Chair Victoria Garcia. “Through this unique property, we hope to facilitate the creation of great jobs that will grow our economy. We anticipate that Project Tech will serve as a gateway for bright minds to channel their talent and build their futures as innovators of today’s technologies and of technologies yet to come.”
“Today we applaud the tremendous success of Port San Antonio for continuing to achieve the community’s vision for it to be a jobs innovator in key industries,” said Mayor Ivy R. Taylor. “We are second in the nation in our skilled cyber workforce, but as we continue to expand our cybersecurity ecosystem with efforts like Project Tech, I know we will soon earn the title of ‘Cyber City, USA,’” she added.
“It is amazing to see what is taking place at the site of the former Kelly Air Force Base and how it continues to transform our community,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who also served as Mayor of San Antonio between 1991 and 1995. “When Kelly closed nearly 20 years ago, it would have been unimaginable that the former Air Force base would find new life, and create thousands of new jobs, across such a wide spectrum of industries.”
“The women and men of San Antonio have a strong track record for hard work and innovation,” said City Councilman Rey Saldaña, whose District 4 includes the Port’s main property. “The upcoming Project Tech provides our community with yet another opportunity for current and future workers to apply their skills and ambition and connect with exciting industries that are growing regionally, nationally and around the world.”
“This is an exciting time for our region’s big cybersecurity community,” said Will Garrett, Director of CyberSecurity San Antonio. “For nearly a decade the Port has been central to our efforts to provide a flexible and strategic platform to further grow this great industry. Project Tech will be a key asset in our ongoing endeavors to grow San Antonio as a place synonymous with full cybersecurity capabilities and as an innovation leader.”
“Few industries in our history have grown as rapidly and permeated the lives of ordinary citizens as cybersecurity,” said Chris Cook, Director of the CyberTexas Foundation. “The Port and its Project Tech partners clearly understand the needs and challenges of a rapidly-evolving technology that can greatly benefit countless people and industries. This new development, and the innovation community it creates, will serve as a foundation that will grow San Antonio’s ability to capture important new opportunities in the century ahead.”
Future phases of the new complex could total over half a million square feet and add hundreds of new jobs at the Port.
The first phase of Project Tech is being designed by Beaty Palmer Architects and will be built by contractor SpawGlass. Both firms are locally-based.
Dallas-based broker Peloton Commercial Real Estate will support marketing efforts through its San Antonio office, which is also promoting the project nationally.