City officials want hipsters and techies at this year’s South by Southwest Festival in Austin to sip on cocktails, munch on tacos and listen to bands — then pack their bags for San Antonio.
For the second year in a row, the nonprofit Choose San Antonio will use the 10-day film, music and tech showcase to pitch the Alamo City as an up-and-coming hot spot with a lively culinary and cultural scene, burgeoning tech industry and cheap real estate.
The organization will hold court for three days starting Friday at Half Step Bar in Austin’s Rainey Street bar district — dubbed Casa San Antonio for the weekend — with panels touting San Antonio’s start-up community and growing downtown along with more informal events showcasing the city’s bands, films, food trucks, tacos and, of course, the Spurs.
San Antonio will also staff an exhibit at the festival’s trade show and job market, hoping to attract resumés of top talent and match them with potential jobs.
“I want to meet a company and get a business card, I want to meet an individual and get direct contact information that I can connect them to,” said Meghan Garza-Oswald, Choose San Antonio’s executive director.
SXSW has blossomed in recent years from a low-key music and film festival to a sprawling international event that engulfs downtown Austin each year, ensnares traffic and draws thousands of attendees — including prominent figures like former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams. This year, former Vice President Joe Biden will take the stage to speak about the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative, undertaken after his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.
The 10-day festival creates a huge windfall for Austin. A study published in September by Greyhill Advisors estimated the 2016 festival injected $325.3 million into the local economy, including more than 59,000 hotel room nights that generated $1.8 million in tax revenue for the city of Austin.
In the past, San Antonio’s involvement in the festival has been relegated solely to “spillover” status, holding festivals comprised of musical acts booked for SXSW gigs who also take time to swing down Interstate 35.
But in recent years San Antonio officials and businesses including Geekdom, Rackspace and USAA have grown savvy to the festival’s recruitment potential.
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