San Antonio Economic Foundation Targets Youth with New CEO Hire

San Antonio — [Corrected 6/30/16, 9:52 a.m. See below.] The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, one of several organizations working to promote business development in the Alamo City, has hired a new president and CEO: Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, an executive at the city-owned gas and electric utility CPS Energy.

The foundation, a nonprofit, works with city and county groups to bring new employers to San Antonio, as well as to help others businesses expand. The organization teamed up with Incell, a biotech contract manufacturer in town, on its creation of a joint venture called BioTurnKey. The new firm, created with a Belgian investment fund called Wisetree invest, aims to develop new life science products that could eventually be spun out as separate companies. BioTurnKey’s founder expects it to create some 50 jobs.

Saucedo-Herrera, 29 according to the San Antonio Express-News, is taking over for Mario Hernandez, who announced his retirement in late 2015, ending his tenure this week. A San Antonio native and graduate of St. Mary’s University, Saucedo-Herrera has worked for CPS Energy since 2008 and rose to become its vice president of public affairs and brand management. [Corrected when Hernandez left his position as CEO and president.]

In a statement, the economic development foundation emphasized that Saucedo-Herrera’s hire signals a shift toward marketing San Antonio to a younger generation, noting the new CEO’s youth. With new tech startups rising out of the city’s cloud computing and cybersecurity industries, as well as a steadily growing life science sector, San Antonio has become an attractive hub for young job seekers—especially those priced out by traditionally hip cities like Portland, Brooklyn, or Austin.

“As a millennial herself, she understands the kind of city we can become,” Rackspace chairman and CEO Graham Weston said in the statement.

Out of all large U.S. cities, San Antonio had the fourth-most people move there between 2014 and 2015, according to Census data. Local officials appear to be trying to capitalize on the trend of San Antonio becoming “the new Austin,” as The Huffington Post put it.

City Manager Sheryl Sculley called Saucedo-Herrera’s hire a “paradigm shift” for the economic development foundation. “San Antonio is a city of limitless opportunity, and there is no one better to deliver that message around the country and the world than Jenna Saucedo-Herrera,” Sculley said in the statement.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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