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Doing business here -- a balance sheet

What do business executives find when they examine San Antonio as a place to expand or relocate their operations? Denmark, Donovan & Oppel Inc., a New York firm specializing in business site selection, studied San Antonio and came up with these conclusions in a report published late last year:

The pluses -- People like to live here, and that makes for contented employees. "Once families become acquainted with the community, most do not want to leave," the report states.

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San Antonio's appeal is attributed to its cultural heritage -- reflected in Spanish architecture and Mexican-American influences that remain strong today in all aspects of daily life -- and to the fact that the local tax base is stable. There is no corporate or personal income tax in Texas.

Companies can expect a highly productive work force. "As measured by employers themselves, productivity in San Antonio plants generally exceeds both company standards and industry averages," the report says. This is in part because of hourly wages that are $1.50 below the US average and a work force that the study claims gets high marks from employees for performance and attitude.

Energy availability is considered a major attraction. While historically low electric rates have been rising rapidly in recent years, the increases stem from the local utility's efforts to broaden its fuel mix.Long dependent on natural gas, City Public Service can now burn oil and coal, and expects to have nuclear power in the mid-1980s. That means a reliable supply of electricity here in the coming years.

In general, the report describes the city as a "superior location" for industries that make products of high value per unit weight, where extra transportation costs would not cut sharply into revenues. Computer components and high-technology equipment are examples of such products.

The minuses -- The geographical location of San Antonio makes transportation costs a major consideration for a manufacturer. The report says there is a limited supply of sites served by rail in the city's industrial parks.

Also, it warns of a "paucity of skilled labor."

The bottom line -- "Overall, San Antonio's economic personality is undergoing substantial change. While retaining its unique ethnic charm, the city has entered a period of long-overdue growth.Modern offices, industrial parks, hotels , and shopping malls give San Antonio the appearance of a healthy, present-age city," the study concludes.

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