Whatever businesses Brooks attracts in 2019 may be icing on the cake after a 2018 capped with a commitment to bring a corporate headquarters here that promises to bring more global exposure to San Antonio, along with greater economic equity and opportunity to the city’s South Side.

The Czech Republic-based OKIN Business Process Services’ plans, announced in October, to establish a U.S. headquarters at Brooks that will employ at least 1,400 people set a new bench mark for the former Air Force base. At full build-out, OKIN’s impact on Brooks and South San Antonio could extend far beyond the jobs it creates.

“The magnitude and scale, and the fact that this is a headquarters for a company that clearly has a global grip, is pretty huge,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.

What’s particularly impressive is that San Antonio survived a two-year site selection process, and Brooks proved to be the Alamo City’s ace in the hole.

“It was very competitive,” San Antonio Economic Development Foundation President and CEO Jenna Saucedo-Herrera said. “EDF got involved. Then we brought in the city and Brooks.”

OKIN BPS — which provides multiple professional services, including expertise in cloud and security technology, to clients worldwide — plans to invest more than $22 million in its Alamo City operations.

“OKIN BPS helps validate the potential for commercial office development at Brooks and on this side of town — only 10 minutes from downtown,” Brooks President and CEO Leo Gomez said.

While OKIN was the clear prize catch for 2018, the No. 2 development for Brooks for the year was the opening of Nissei Plastic Machinery America Inc.’s plant, Gomez said. It may have helped set the stage for attracting OKIN.

“Nissei really has served as the starting point of what we’re seeing become a domino effect of these international companies showing interest in locating at Brooks,” Gomez said.

Other entities committed to significant investment in Brooks in 2018, including Baptist Health System. Last year, Mission Trail Baptist Hospital earmarked $5 million to expand clinical services at the South Side facility. It also committed another $1 million to build out more operating room space.

Those projects were prompted, Baptist officials said, by sharp growth in the city’s southern sector. More population increases are forecast for the area.

Mission Trail serves 16 ZIP codes in three counties with a population of about 345,000 people. That population is projected to grow 12 percent over the next five years, while Bexar County’s overall growth rate is expected to be about 10 percent.

As the South Side grows, so does that population’s desire for more residential, retail and entertainment options. Brooks has positioned itself as a magnet for businesses looking to meet that demand.

Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery at Pearl, for example, revealed plans in December to develop a second location at Brooks. It will feature a 40-seat tap room with outdoor seating connected to a 6,000-square-foot brewery in a former Air Force base chapel built in 1941.

Gomez said the sale of The Kennedy, a multitenant residential development at Brooks, is a testament to the “viability of market-rate housing” in the area.

In a nutshell, 2018 was about gaining momentum.

“I expect it to carry on into 2019, with more infrastructure development, master planning of specific parcels and the addition of another major employer or two,” Gomez said.

“This job creation is leading to very real prospects for the development of additional residential, retail and restaurant opportunities,” he said. “I expect it to get us to the cusp of launching the development of our very own town center here at Brooks.”

Article originally published here: 2018 Business of the Year: Brooks becomes bigger global landing spot