On August 28th - September 1st, 2019, SACIV welcomed four international visitors from Japan for an IVLP single country project for Japan entitled “Energy Security." This program was planned to provide participants with the opportunity to explore U.S. energy policy making at the federal, state and local level. They also had a chance to observe how U.S. policymakers balance different energy sources (nuclear, coal, gas, renewables) to meet demand and ensure a stable supply.
On Thursday morning, our visitors met with the representative of the North American Development Bank, which role is to address economic and sustainable development issues in the U.S.-Mexico border region. The participants were inspired to learn about the environmental infrastructure projects that the NADBank financed along the border to preserve the environment and improve the quality of life of people on both sides of the border. There were 28 toal projects that this bank financed. The meeting was quite helpful and informative for guests.
Later that day, our guests had a meeting with the representatives of the Joint Base San Antonio when they learned about the military challenges and plans for major renewable energy initiatives. IVLP visitors were specifically interested in learning about integrated renewable energy into the energy supply on a military base and decision-making on energy sources. Every participant agreed that the main tasks are resilience issues and conservation alternative resources for both countries.
In the afternoon, our delegation met with the Director, Dr. Krystel Castillo, in the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute (UTSA) where they learned about the expertise of the Institute and the sustainable energy research programs including micro-grids, transportation electrification, wind and solar energy, as well as integrating technological innovation and policy deliberations. The delegation enjoyed the discussion and the tour of the Laboratories in the Institute.
On Friday morning, visitors met with the Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer of the City of San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability. IVLP guests learned about the initiatives and programs to promote sustainability including their Energy Management Division, which is their newest program and represents an ambitious effort to reduce the city's annual utilities cost and minimize the energy and water performance of current and future city properties. There were a number of good questions and comments about the Japanese expertise in similar programs. But participants admitted that this is a hard and long-term work.
Next meeting was at the nation’s largest municipally owned energy company provided both natural gas and electric service where participants learned about company’s . The Executive Vice President shared about the local business landscape and current strategies used to make San Antonio economically competitive internationally.
After lunch, they headed to meet with the private sector representatives of Build Sec Foundation who shared about the long-term incubator which helps founders launch security product startups in Central Texas. Our visitors learned about their unique cases when they helped several companies to be recognized, tested, and deployed into the market. They also shared their experience in surrounding every startup with necessary resources and networking to excel.
This visit in San Antonio couldn’t be full without the meeting with private sector and valuable example of what it means to be an entrepreneur at the border. That is why on Wednesday morning the group met with the principal of J.Canavati & Co. LLC who runs a firm dedicated to the development of international logistics and trade projects. The participants could discuss the firm’s work to drive international business and foreign direct investment into the region and help customers navigate the nuances of the global market.
On Wednesday afternoon, the IVLP guest took part in the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s International Business committee meeting. It was a practical meeting to observe when important decisions and plans were made to support international commerce and trade at the border.
The visit to San Antonio was filled with significant meetings and necessary discussions as the program highlighted the role of free trade zones and relationships in facilitating trade and how trade impacts and supports economic development of the community in San Antonio. IVLP guests learned how non-government and public-private partnership organizations work together in San Antonio to promote local and regional economic development activities. #ExchangeMatters