When San Antonio began creeping north into the surrounding hill country, the rural residents of western Comal County decided to take action. The City of Bulverde—also known as the “Front Porch of the Texas Hill CountryTM”—incorporated as a City in the late 1990s and early 2000s to prevent San Antonio from annexing and encompassing the area…
Even though Bulverde was formed to help stop the spread of San Antonio’s urban sprawl, the community does not shun development—they just want it to be quality development. “The City of Bulverde is on the right path to well-planned, managed growth,” says Sherry Mosier, President of the Bulverde/Spring Branch Economic Development Foundation (BSBEDF). “The City of Bulverde has a streamlined development and permitting process with a reasonable turnaround time, unlike some of the larger metropolitan areas. They understand time is money, but most importantly, they want to ensure we attract and keep good quality businesses.”
The City of Spring Branch also just incorporated in November of 2015 “in an effort to maintain its identity and heritage.” The two cities combine to create “an affluent bedroom community with strong demographics that is evolving into its own viable economy and travel destination.”
“We are a business friendly community located at the crossroads of commerce between San Antonio and Austin,” Mrs. Mosier reports. “These cities and the surrounding areas are two of the fastest growing Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the Country.” Bulverde/Spring Branch’s strategic location along the major corridors of US 281 and State Highway 46 ensures that the community can take full advantage of the surrounding business opportunities. Air travel is also a convenient option. The Bulverde/Spring Branch area boasts two private airports, with public access, and is within 22 miles of the San Antonio International Airport, 29 miles of the New Braunfels Regional Airport, and 70 miles of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Major industries in Bulverde/Spring Branch include communications, construction, financial services, technology, healthcare, engineering, education, retail and many small businesses, which are the backbone of any economy. “These companies are high quality, high wage, non-water intensive companies—technology, green business, retail and services, etc.—and have a great passion and respect for our community and the Texas Hill Country. They are great community partners,” says Mrs. Mosier.
A handful of notable companies have gotten their start in Bulverde/Spring Branch or have chosen to relocate there. Futurex, an innovative global leader in enterprise-class data security solutions, is based in Bulverde. The company has been named one of San Antonio’s “Best Places to Work” by the San Antonio Business Journal for eight consecutive years, made Cybersecurity Ventures’ list of the top 500 Hot Companies to Watch, and is ranked among The Silicon Review Magazine’s top 20 fastest growing data security companies of 2015.
Locally headquartered GVTC Communications, one of the area’s largest primary employers, is an award winning leader in fiber communications. In fact, a unique public-private partnership was formed between GVTC Communications and the cities of Bulverde, Boerne and Gonzales, known as the GVTC GigaRegion®, to promote this fiber network and help drive economic development in the region. The City of Bulverde is a “fiber complete city” and the surrounding unincorporated area as well as the City of Spring Branch also enjoys a robust fiber network. GVTC was recently recognized as “Top Operator of the Year” by CableFax the Magazine, a “Top 100 Fiber to the Home Provider” by Broadband Properties Magazine for the eighth consecutive year and a “Top Work Place” by the San Antonio Express-News for several years in a row.
AirTronic USA relocated to Bulverde from the Chicago area last year. An electromechanical engineering design and manufacturing company with a consulting engineering group, the business provides small arms, light weapons and spare parts to the U.S. Department of Defense, foreign militaries and law enforcement. A&E Air Conditioning & Heating, a leader in the HVAC industry, also recently relocated its corporate headquarters to Bulverde.
Stoddard Construction Management Inc. (SCMI) has been based in Bulverde since 1972 and is responsible for a number of high profile projects, from arenas and processing plants to high-rise buildings and shopping centers. Also headquartered in Bulverde, Geosource is an erosion control contractor specializing in biomass, land restoration and re-vegetation. Located in Spring Branch, M & S Engineering employs more than 90 professionals specializing in civil, electrical, and subsurface utility engineering, surveying, and hydrology.
Bulverde’s ECS Learning Systems is an educational publishing company with national market reach. “In 2014, ECS Learning Systems was honored by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UTSA as a Small Business Leader in the areas of job retention and business development,” Ms. Mosier reports. A division of Lumerit Education, CollegePlus was founded in the Bulverde/Spring Branch area in 2004. “What was once a small out-of-the-garage idea has grown into a global movement that has served more than 10,000 students from all 50 states and 22 countries around the world.”
Incoming and existing businesses enjoy plenty of support. As a nonprofit, public/private partnership comprised of various leaders within the community, BSBEDF is able to offer a wide range of services including demographic reports; market analysis; site location, development and infrastructure assistance; coordination between taxing entities; identification and coordination of incentives and programs; assistance with workforce development and training; permitting process assistance, and employee relocation guidance.
BSBEDF also holds biannual job fairs for incoming and existing businesses. “This program has significantly helped our local employers fill their workforce needs,” says Mrs. Mosier. “We also have a Business Retention & Expansion Program in place where we visit our local businesses to inquire about their experience in the community, if they are having any issues finding or retaining employees, if they are having any challenges with current or future infrastructure needs, if they have any training needs, how they are doing financially and whether they are having challenges or looking to expand, etc.” This type of one-on-one attention is key to bringing in even more business. “A successful existing business atmosphere is one of the best tools to attract new business to our community.”
The community’s strong economy and positive business climate has spurred substantial construction activity. Singing Hills is a 250-acre mixed-use development strategically located at Bulverde’s major commercial intersection. Anchored by an 180,000 square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, the site will include 246,154 square feet of inline retail space, 25± pad sites, 352 residential lots, a 450,000-gallon wastewater treatment facility, numerous restaurants, two banks, and a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility. In addition, Singing Hills is expected to be the site of the community’s first hotel, a Hampton Inn with a 5,300 square foot public Convention & Visitor’s Center.
“Our Singing Hills Development is truly a Class A development,” Mrs. Mosier points out. “In fact, in 2015, the Singing Hills Development was recognized by the San Antonio Business Journal’s ‘Best in Commercial Real Estate Awards’ as Best Development-Retail and Best New Development.”
Johnson Ranch is a 767-acre mixed-use development with 924± residential lots, over 100 acres of mixed use/commercial space, a school, an amenity center, a Fire & EMS facility, and 3.7± acres of neighborhood parks and trails. “The property stretches across terrain that ranges from flat grasslands near the Cibolo Creek up through numerous rolling hilltops, with 360 degree views and an abundance of massive Live Oaks and lush grasslands throughout. It’s truly a sight to see and a beautiful addition to our community.”
Masso Family Limited Partnership (MFLP) acquired The Shops at Faithville Park, formally known as Faithville Village, in October of 2015. MFLP is redeveloping the 16-acre site at an estimated cost of $8 million. The project involves 40 different retail stores, restaurants and small businesses, as well as an amphitheater, parks, and a bed & breakfast.
The community is also working to develop its downtown core. The City of Bulverde has undergone several strategic planning initiatives over the last three years, including a visioning process for the historic heart of the community and the future development of the Downtown Bulverde area. Currently, Downtown Bulverde is home to a number of governmental offices and community organizations, small businesses, retail, a restaurant, a wine bar and the Bulverde Area Arts Center, as well as “several of the most significant structures in the community’s history [including] the Bulverde post office, the original general store, and the cotton gin.”
Two new developments will help improve the community’s already robust healthcare options. A freestanding emergency room and a 34-bed assisted living facility will both be opening in Bulverde this summer. A number of new office buildings are also in the works. New residential developments have nearly 7,000 lots approved in master planned communities that will be rolled out over the next couple of decades, in addition to approximately 600 multifamily units.
Where employees want to live
“If I were a company looking for a place to call home, I would locate in a community where my employees want to live,” says Mrs. Mosier. “That’s right here in Bulverde/Spring Branch. It’s a unique quality of life that only Bulverde/Spring Branch and the Texas Hill Country can offer.”
And of course, the location is excellent. “Although we are within arm’s reach of two large metropolitan areas, our community has been able to retain its rural character and quality of life. Our community offers spectacular Texas Hill Country Living at its finest!”
Recreational opportunities abound. Bulverde/Spring Branch is near the Guadalupe River, Canyon Lake, world-renowned Texas vineyards and wineries, some of the oldest dance halls in Texas, and countless event venues. Residents also enjoy a first rate local park system. The City of Bulverde recently completed a multi-million dollar overhaul of the Bulverde Community Park, which now includes walking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, ball fields, a basketball court, a music area, and plenty of open spaces. County parks provide even more ball fields and sports complexes, as well as hiking trails through more than 40 acres of densely wooded ranchland.
Residents are less than a 45 minute drive from regional attractions such as Schlitterbahn Water Park & Resort, Historic Gruene, Natural Bridge Caverns and Wildlife Ranch, Cascade Caverns, Cave Without a Name, The Serengeti Resort, San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio Zoo, Hemisfair Park, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Sea World San Antonio, and Morgan’s Wonderland Special Needs Park.
The local school district, Comal I.S.D., is recognized as being “highly desirable,” and the Centre for Emergency Health Sciences (cEHS) provides additional educational opportunities. As part of the award winning Bulverde/Spring Branch Fire & EMS team, cEHS offers multi-discipline continuing education, AHA & DSHS certifications, specialized medical workshops, as well as medical research opportunities. The Centre serves medical corporations and professionals from across the United States as well as numerous governmental agencies. The first training for robotic-arm surgery in the area happened at the Centre.
Local leaders are eager to maintain the community’s high standard of living while encouraging new business and development. “Currently we are an evolving bedroom community of San Antonio,” Mrs. Mosier explains. Major plans are underway for ongoing infrastructure improvements to accommodate an expected population increase of 140 percent by 2040. “The goal is to maintain our rural character and high quality of life while growing a stable and vibrant local economy where our citizens can live, work, learn, shop, eat and play without the need to undergo the rigorous commute to San Antonio and other surrounding communities.”