San Antonio, Texas, and its surrounding county of Bexar have approved $300,000 in funding to hire a “chief talent and recruitment officer (CTRO),” a first-of-its-kind position in government, responsible for retaining and attracting talent for local technology companies.
The position, reported initially by mySA, is an answer to the region’s desire to become a competitive tech destination for businesses. The city and county funding will be invested in local IT advocacy group TechBloc, which is conducting the hiring process. Duties for the CTRO would be to act as a matchmaker and to design an IT worker and employer registrations and analytics platform that can identify employment trends. Some cities, like Boston, employ “startup managers,” but those positions tend to focus on building relationships and seeking collaboration with existing companies in local startup communities, rather than a broad emphasis on economic development, as in San Antonio.
“Tech Bloc is creating a CTRO position to work directly inside the local IT industry in meeting critical job recruitment, placement and training referral needs.” TechBloc wrote in its job description. “At a fundamental level, this office will provide a single-point-of-contact and coordination for IT workers, employers, and educators.”
While San Antonio has made strides to structure itself as an accommodating place for technology companies through programs like its Techstars Talent Retention Pilot — an $800,000 program that awards grants to promising tech startups — the city has shown declines in its entrepreneurial activity. A 2016 report from Geekdom, a San Antonio tech collaborative, indicated that the rate of startup activity has declined since 2015 from 34 percent to 28 percent in 2016. This follows a slight decrease in startup density within the city, from 88.5 percent to 84.6 percent.
“What we’re really starting with is the idea that it begins with keeping our best talent here, training our human capital, those that have a desire to be in the technology industry, making sure they have pathways,” said David Heard, CEO of Tech Bloc to mySA. “It starts with keeping our talented young people here.”
City and county officials are hoping that the new position will inject the region with fresh talent and that eventually the role will become a long-term fixture funded by IT membership dues paid by local tech employers for talent, commissions for successful hires, industry sponsorship and event revenues from job fairs.