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25th Anniversary Issue

Current 25: Fickle AT&T comes and goes

1991-1995

“It will be the most important economic development event in San Antonio history,” said County Judge Nelson Wolff. “We have never had a Fortune 500 company move its headquarters to San Antonio. We have only four Fortune 500 companies in the city.” And, Wolff told Dennis Nixon of the International Bank of Commerce, “You have got to make them an offer they can’t refuse.”

So, in September 1992, before 500 people gathered downtown, then-Mayor Nelson Wolff and Governor Ann Richards welcomed Southwestern Bell chief Ed Whitacre to San Antonio. Wolff recounts how Whitacre emphasized the role one major city investment played in his decision: “The Dome is a symbol that your city is willing to invest for the long term. I like a city that takes chances and invests in itself.”

Then, in June 2008, the much-enlarged AT&T announced it was leaving San Antonio for a new corporate headquarters in Dallas. Easy come, easy go. One Express-News story at the time said “it should be a wake-up call.” But it’s not clear that any of our leaders have indeed awakened. Lots of them still act like someone from out of town will bring us jobs and riches.

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