(July 26, 2018) -- In collaboration with Southside First Economic Development Council (SFEDC). The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Urban Future Lab – an interdisciplinary think-and-do-tank and research laboratory founded by UTSA Assistant Professor Antonio Petrov – is undertaking a pilot program on the Southside of San Antonio to foster social mobility and placemaking in the Mission San Jose and Quintana Road communities.
SFEDC was established in late 2016 by the South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to catalyze revitalization efforts in San Antonio. Since that time, it has focused on growing the economy using a three-pronged approach. It (1) develops programs and facilitates partnerships to connect economic growth resources to Southside communities; (2) energizes and empowers business, neighborhoods and schools through economic events, workshops and marketing outreach; and (3) provides economic data, identifies indicators and advocates for solutions to support revitalization efforts for Southside business corridors and neighborhoods.
While its community-based development approach has made a positive impact, equity, mobility and income segregation studies continue to reflect a large disparity in Southside San Antonio.
In the Mission San Jose community, which has a population of 5,630, the median household income is $27,500. In the Quintana community, which has a population of 11,780, one third live below the poverty level and the median income is $25,636.
“San Antonio is a fast-growing city and, as the city faces north, something is getting left out” said Andrew Anguiano, SFEDC executive director. “In the south, for example, you have major economic assets like Port of San Antonio and you have a neighborhood next door – Quintana – that has a household income of $25K right next to it. The question is, why are these economic assets not activating the environment?”.
Anguiano called on UTSA researchers to help assess the challenge.
Petrov, along with visiting postdoctoral research fellows and UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning students, has started addressing questions of inequity through community dialogues. In these dialogues, The Urban Future Lab and Southside First EDC are distinguishing between myths and solvable problems, while tapping into the communities’ existing entrepreneurial spirit.
A hybrid civic engagement approach is central to the effort. The Urban Future Lab is focusing on the physical and digital realms to gather increasingly personalized data from residents of the pilot communities to address the issues of digital, human and geographic inequity.
“Antonio Petrov is guiding us to re-evaluate the way we think about things. He is changing the mindset,” said Anguiano.
As founder of the Urban Future Lab, Petrov employs a “no-box” approach in addressing imminent issues affecting San Antonio such as infrastructure, housing, water, transportation, data analysis, education and equity. The researchers are taking a project-oriented and pragmatic approach in imaging and implementing initiatives for the future. Collaboration with city entities is integral to the partners’ mission to develop solutions for Southside residents and businesses.
The pilot program led by UTSA and Southside First EDC will produce a community-based strategy that outlines assets and resources to advance economic revitalization and community development. The partners will chart a path that translates the communities’ collective ambitions and visions into values, responsibilities, duties and aspirations to develop the mechanisms necessary to define a future trajectory.
“Based on the social, cultural, economic and political climate in San Antonio’s Southside, it seems many have accepted that mystery and assumptions inform the decisions that are made,” said Petrov. “Our hope is to begin conversations that identify solutions to improve the quality of life for Southside residents and businesses and for all of San Antonio.”
UTSA is ranked among the nation’s top five young universities, according to Times Higher Education.
Learn more about UTSA’s new Urban Future Lab.
Learn more about UTSA professor Antonio Petrov.
Learn more about the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning.
In honor of UTSA's 50th Anniversary in 2019, the university is hosting Roadrunner Days Spring Edition - two weeks of semester-launching activities built around our deeply held values of student success, student involvement, community service and fun!Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy invites everyone to its monthly lecture and stargazing event (weather permitting).Flawn Building (FLN 2.02.02) and Curtis Vaughn Jr. Observatory, 4th floor of Flawn Building, Main Campus
All UTSA students, faculty, staff, alums & families are invited to march as a unified community. Register here: bit.ly/2TYbHbR. Shuttles will be provided from the Main and Downtown Campuses.Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, 3501 MLK Dr., San Antonio
UTSA's John Nix invites the community to sing "Amazing Grace" and “We Shall Overcome” at 11 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The intent of this nationwide effort is to honor Dr. King's legacy and to spread a sense of community in the United States.Locations throughout the United States
Opening Reception got exhibit featuring artists Miguel Aragon, Aaron Coleman, Sandra Fernandez, Annalise Gratovich, Marco Hernandez, Kristen Powers Nowlin, & Patricia Villalobos EcheverriaMain Art Gallery, Arts Building (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Tracy Cowden, Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and chair of the UTSA Department of Music launches the UTSA 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series with Music as Medicine: The Power and Influence of Music on our Health.Radius Center, 106 Auditorium Cir. #120, San Antonio
UTSA African American Studies Program presents this series featuring Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus)
Join fellow Runners to walk for 10 minutes on the Main Campus. The event reminds us of the importance of exercise, diet and healthy habits in protecting our hearts.Outside the North Paseo Building, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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