Port San Antonio leaders announced Wednesday that a $14 billion global software and cybersecurity firm will soon set up shop at the tech, logistics and aviation campus.
The Virginia-based Leidos, which provides services to defense, civil and health care markets, will join a growing number of firms at the former Kelly Air Force Base that provides job opportunities and aims to strengthen San Antonio’s position in the tech sector.
Sparks shot skyward from the Boeing Center stage after Port San Antonio President and CEO Jim Perschbach introduced the Leidos name to a crowd of about 400 during a rock concert-style annual update on progress at the Port.
In San Antonio, Leidos will be doing software development for multiple government customers, said Brandon VerVelde, spokesman for Leidos.
“Leidos is pleased to join Port San Antonio,” he said. “The Port is building an exceptional ecosystem of technology innovation and government organizations that align with Leidos’ capabilities and our support for our customers.”
In 2018, the state comptroller estimated that the Port contributed $5.6 billion to the Texas economy that year and supported 32,000 jobs.
Port SA Board Chairwoman Margaret Wilson-Anaglia suggested the next round of number-crunching will result in an even greater economic impact.
“I know that [the comptroller’s] team will bring a calculator with fresh batteries because he’s gonna need it,” she said. “I want you to stay tuned.”
In the last year, 2,000 jobs have been added to the Port San Antonio campus, said Perschbach, bringing the total workforce at the sprawling manufacturing site on San Antonio’s Southwest Side to 18,000.
“They are doing everything from aviation to aerospace to robotics, and just doing some absolutely amazing work,” Perschbach said.
He highlighted expansions by several of Port SA’s 80 tenants, including aircraft manufacturer Boeing and Standard Aero, one of the world’s largest independent gas turbine engine and accessories maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.
Boeing recently took delivery of the first of two B-52 bombers that will undergo upgrades to their radar technology as part of a $376 million contract with the U.S. Air Force.
Standard Aero also recently won a contract to maintain the fuel-efficient Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion engines.
“There are two companies in the world that have received a license to maintain that engine and one of them is Standard Aero,” Perschbach said. “And Standard Aero announced a couple of weeks ago they’re going to put all of that work here in San Antonio.”
Perschbach also told the San Antonio Report that Standard Aero is planning to launch a global training facility to provide intensive aircraft engine maintenance training for up to 300 people a year.
Other new and expanding Port SA tenants Perschbach highlighted include Knight Aerospace, CNF Technologies, Plus One Robotics, DeLorean and Xyrex.
Despite the growth in jobs and contracts at the Port, revenue is 1% below target, he said during the annual “State of the Port” event.
He attributed that to construction of the $70 million Boeing Center, a high-tech concert venue and e-sports center.
But that does not concern Perschbach, who oversees the Port’s budget that has $70 million in annual revenue.
“It’s not the end of the world … I don’t spend the slightest bit of time worrying about it [and] I don’t think my board cares,” he said. “That’s not just because our net operating income or profit is 3% above target. It’s because in that same time, we’ve added 2,000 jobs to this campus this year.”
Since 2017, the Port also has processed 750 million square feet of real estate transactions, he said.
To create more space for the demand and attract more business, Port leaders are also planning at least two new facilities aimed at the future of aviation and technology.
The Port already has released a solicitation for bids to build a “vertiport” launching pad for electric planes that take off and land vertically.
“What you’re going to see is Port San Antonio being one of the first places in the country, one of the first places in the world, that is actually operating these aircraft,” Perschbach said. “We want these projects that are projects that are being built by the people within our community.”
Plans for a multistory office building that Perschbach said will be San Antonio’s most expensive tower are also in the works.
“This is going to be an outrageously complex project,” he said. But that’s not what worries Perschbach.
“We’re doing tremendously well,” he said. But a “creeping sense of negativity” is what will hold San Antonio back.
“I get so frustrated when I see people saying that we can’t compete with the best in the world,” he said. “Over the past three weeks, we’ve had benchmarking visits from national laboratories … major research universities and from defense departments, both United States and International.
“We were born for greatness,” Perschbach said, quoting the lyrics of a song by American rock band Papa Roach, who performed at the Boeing Center in 2022.