By Jacob Beltran
The first African-American elected to Bexar County Commissioner of Precinct 4, Tommy Calvert Jr., shared a few of his plans to spur economic growth during a breakfast meeting with South Side business representatives.
The South Side Chamber of Commerce hosts a breakfast club the second Thursday of each month at Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant, supplying its members with ideas and resources to revitalize the economy of San Antonio’s South Side.
Throughout his Nov. 13 address, Calvert discussed his plans for Precinct 4, receiving wide applause from the South Side Chamber of Commerce audience.
Calvert is set to take office Jan. 6 in a precinct that stretches from parts of downtown out to the county’s east, north and south side boundaries, and includes 13 cities.
Just before the start of the work day, men and women in business attire chowed down on enchiladas and fruit as chamber president Al Arreola introduced Calvert.
President of Calvert International Consulting, Calvert, 33, has former experience in governance working as an aide in 1998 to Mario Salas, former San Antonio City Councilman for District 2.
A noted community activist, he’s also the co-founder and general manager of San Antonio Community Radio, KROV-FM, 91.7.
Raising money and working against his competition, the commissioner elect beat out opponent Timothy Wilson in the election to become the first African-American to serve on the court.
“It was people-powered, people-centered, innovative, grueling,” Calvert said of the campaign he ran. “It was a labor of love.”
Calvert said he’s already began working on projects, including the creation of a public safety substation, a university health clinic in northeast Bexar County, a second bibliotech, a county annex building, animal services, a neighborhood revitalization fund, and helping small businesses.
“The corridor between downtown and New Braunfels is the the fourth-fastest growing economic corridor in the U.S.” he said.
The Bexar County Commissioner’s Court, that governs all of Bexar County, is made up of one County Judge and four commissioners.
“We’re the chief executives of county government,” he said, adding that they oversee parts of the justice and health system, as well as streets, drainage, infrastructure, and job recruitment.
Determined to help improve South Side economic development as one of four county commissioners, Calvert identified economic segregation in the county as an impediment, adding that the dollar circulates eight times on the North Side, but only once on the South Side.
“None of it is heading towards the South,” Calvert said.
An applause erupted from the audience and many nodded in agreement.
On top of this, Calvert said “When the county builds infrastructure in a neighborhood, I want to hire people from that neighborhood.”
He informed members of the Fair Contracting Coalition, a group focused on “increasing the number of minority and women-owned firms in the City’s Central Vendor Registry (CVR) to better reflect their ability in the broader marketplace.”
“We haven’t reached equality in the contracting,” he said during a follow-up interview.
Calvert said his goal to help the coalition includes implementing policies for smaller and minority owned businesses, and to help the small business community increase their revenue.
“It’s very important to downtown San Antonio that everyone has a fair shot at these contracts,” he said.
He mentioned that many businesses, especially those at Brooks City-Base, should take advantage of foreign direct investment, otherwise known as EB-5, allowing foreign investors to fund for-profits or non-profits.
For-profit groups must have been established after Nov. 29, 1990. Exceptions for commercial groups established on or before Nov. 29, 1990 include that:
- The purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results.
- It is expanded through the investment so that a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs.
Many of Calvert’s talking points were applauded by members of the chamber, who congratulated Calvert on his position and offered their own ideas for helping the precinct.
Carine Crowell, business consultant and chief rainmaker with Loiseau Solutions, offered her idea on using Solar Energy to power parts of the outer Bexar County region.
The next chamber breakfast club is 7:30 a.m. Dec. 11 at Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant. Cost to attend for members is $12 and $17 for non-members.