Little City, Big Heart

City of Cibolo, TX
Written by Allison Dempsey

One of the safest and most livable cities in the State of Texas, the City of Cibolo in Guadalupe County, south central Texas, is bordered by the I-10 to the south and I-35 to the north. Cibolo is successfully attracting diverse new residents with its outstanding work, school and leisure opportunities.

With an estimated population of 31,000 and growing, Cibolo has a number of exciting plans on the horizon, particularly in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. With approximately 370 new homes and 1,200 new residents each year, the city is considered one of the fastest growing along the I-35 corridor, leading to it proudly embracing its moniker, “City of Choice.”

“City of Choice is the tagline that we’ve chosen as we continue to grow exponentially every year,” says Christine Pollok, Public Relations Manager. “New residents choose to relocate to Cibolo for various reasons, but the main ones are our small-town appeal, our diverse business offerings and our outstanding school district. We do have one of the top school districts in the state of Texas which attracts many families to our area.”

With the health and happiness of residents in mind, Cibolo is also working to improve quality of life projects, by extending hike and bike trails all around the city so residents can traverse Cibolo in a variety of ways.

“You can get around by bike or scooter or take your kids out for a walk, which is something that’s hard to find these days,” she says.

Cibolo is also proud of its unique Miracle League Field – a special needs, accessible ball field featuring a hard, rubberized surface so that special-needs children or wounded veterans in wheelchairs can enjoy sports without risk of injury.

“That was passed by our residents and several of our Community Partners, businesses that are here that have donated to get the project up and running,” says Pollok. “We’re getting close to finishing this year. That’s something that sets us apart in the quality of life offerings. We’re very excited for that.”

On the manufacturing side, AW Texas, a 159-acre automatic transmission plant scheduled to open in September, is a huge economic boost for the city, set to gain 900 new jobs in the next five years. A subsidiary of Aisin AW Co., Ltd., and a leading manufacturer of transmissions around the world, the project is a result of a collaboration between the City of Cibolo, Guadalupe County, Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC), the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and the State of Texas.

“The area near the AW Texas site has now become an incentive for more manufacturing and industrial businesses,” says Dustin Morris, Business Development Coordinator. “We’re very thankful for that opportunity and definitely attribute a lot of our booming manufacturing growth and interest to them.”

Continuing to attract businesses is an ongoing process. When it comes to retail frontage, Cibolo is unique, says Morris. There’s a very small portion of frontage along the I-35 corridor, which for a lot of cities in Texas along that corridor, is a very profitable commercial area.

“You don’t typically see a lot of industrial. It’s a lot more commercial because of the traffic,” he says. “It’s nice that we have some visibility on that frontage to participate in that competitive commercial area.”

The challenge, he says, was in finding a developer that would successfully develop that singular piece of land. Without multiple pieces over a long stretch of road, they wanted to find someone who would do “great things” with that piece of land.

“We were very fortunate that Faskin Oil & Ranch was the development company that came in, purchased the property in partnership with their third party development firm and master-planned it beautifully,” says Morris. “They’ve finished Phase 1 and there are a few businesses already there.”

Major attractions in the area include Santikos Entertainment, which has built a state-of-the art movie theater, bowling alley, arcade, sports bar, and restaurant.

“They were kind of like our anchor business,” says Morris. “They were the very first ones to put their walls up and really made the site attractive to other businesses just purely with the pull of such a well-known name in San Antonio.”

There’s also Magnolia Pancake Haus, another San Antonio favorite. “They’re very competitive in terms of their location, but we were very fortunate to also recruit them,” he says.

And finally, Willie’s Grill & Icehouse, another Texas staple. “They’ve already been great community partners,” says Morris. “They’ve donated a little over $8,000 to the Cibolo Police Department as well as our school district. Right from the get-go they’ve been very invested in our community.”

Investing in the community is always a priority when looking to draw new businesses to the area, says Pollok. “When large businesses like AW Texas or large developments come in to our city, we make sure they align with our goals and that they want to be partners with us and beautify our city and increase amenities for our residents.

“It not only benefits the city to have those amenities, but it benefits their business as well. That way people can live work and play in the area.”

When it comes to Cibolo’s I-10 frontage, Morris also wants to highlight how collaborative the city is with its community development partners. The GVEC, GVSUD and Centerpoint Energy have been instrumental in helping the city grow there.

“It’s actually the city’s and the GVEC’s biggest push now with AW Texas,” he says. “All of our recruitment efforts have been focused on getting manufacturing, industrial, any kind of health care there as well. Even if it’s not necessarily a hospital, if they can manufacture any kind of medical devices we really want to bring that to this area because it’s severely lacking. It’s definitely the goal that we want as a city to have a very diverse business population.”

Viewed traditionally as a “bedroom community,” Morris says the city is currently calm and quiet, without a ton of traffic, which has its benefits: In terms of crime rate, Cibolo was named one of Texas’ safest cities this past year. Coupled with a high median household income and a great workforce population close to San Antonio – and Austin too, in terms of drive time – this is a big selling point, says Morris.

The workforce and the businesses collectively faced the challenge of navigating the pandemic over the last year and a half, but Cibolo managed to stay strong and united throughout.

“Cibolo didn’t suffer like some of our surrounding communities did,” says Pollok. “Our residents shopped locally, our tax base was diversified, and our businesses were shifted into essential means of production, so they could stay open and stay profitable during that time. And our budget didn’t take a hit whatsoever with sales tax or property tax during COVID-19.”

City Council actually voted right before the pandemic to lower the tax rate by a penny, so even with the decrease on that tax, they did see an increase in tax from last year.

“I think it’s comforting for our businesses to know that if something like this was to happen again, they wouldn’t be as severely affected as if they were living and working somewhere else,” says Pollok. “Aside from their internal pressures, we made sure we had a good climate for their businesses to continue.”

Because the city is a bedroom community outside of San Antonio with more rooftops than business tops, it’s lacking a diverse tax base, placing pressure on its operating budget. That’s now changing with businesses newly moving to Texas and the Cibolo area.

“We’re very fortunate that now we’re expanding our tax base, and diversifying and trying to alleviate that burden for our residents,” says Morris. “We’re very thankful that the city has such a pro-business approach and has moved to address the issue.”

It’s that dedication to businesses and those who reside in the city that has led to a number of accolades over the years. Both the City of Cibolo and GVEC were recognized multiple times throughout the year, which included receiving an award from the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC) for the recruitment at AW Texas.

Cibolo also received a mention in the Governor’s keynote speech this year, as well as from Adriana Cruz, the Director of Economic Development for the Governor’s office. “It’s very nice to have Cibolo be spoken about so highly by such high-ranking officials in our government,” says Morris. “Definitely a lot of good things have come because of that.”

The Cibolo EDC also received a Gold Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for their efforts during International Economic Development Week. “That was another nice award for the community on such a global scale, because a lot of people look to IEDC for good places to relocate their business or expand. To have fame on a global scale was wonderful. That was our big win.”

At the moment the city has a large number of big names in its pipeline, including Living Spaces, a large furniture store, which is one of the missing components in Cibolo’s tax base.

“With all of these new homes, especially in our area, going up every single year we had no competitive factor in that market,” says Morris. “Everyone was going to other cities and purchasing and bringing the furniture here, and now we have the opportunity to open up a furniture store in Cibolo and recoup those losses and obviously build on future years.”

The goal for the next 10 years, he says, is to build on the success they’re currently working through. In terms of the I-10, he’d like to see that completely developed into a major manufacturing hub for the city. In terms of quality of life, Morris says the city is interested in continuing interconnectivity for hike-and-bike trails throughout the area, along with establishing more sports fields.

“We want to make sure we welcome everybody we can to our city in terms of sports teams and sports events. The city would also like to see an event center of some kind on a large scale, so if there are any conferences or sporting events, visitors have the opportunity to stay local in terms of shopping and dining.”

While it’s difficult to know what’s happening 10 years ahead, Cibolo wants to ensure it provides the best possible quality of life to both its residents and businesses.

“Our residents will now have better drainage and better roads, so we’re very excited by that,” says Morris. “We also want to provide great workforce housing, whether that be homes for families or apartments – whatever the case may be. We just want to make sure we have everything that a business or family would need in Cibolo.”

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