A huge expanse of barren parking lot at Port San Antonio is set to become a big, new economic generator. Project Tech was launched Wednesday morning with a ceremonial first pitch, signifying the beginning of a new season of growth.

With mariachis playing and confetti cannons popping, local business and political leaders said that the new campus in the heart of what used to be Kelly Air Force Base will bring cybersecurity jobs to young San Antonians who want to have great careers in their home town.

Port officials say that Project Tech will begin with a 90,000-square-foot office building in the 3300 block of General Hudnell Drive. Before that project is finished next spring, they expect construction to start on the second phase of development, which would include a building twice as big as the first.

“This is huge! I mean Port San Antonio is branching out into a new era,” said Victoria Garcia, who serves on the board of directors for the organization. ”There's tremendous growth potential in cybersecurity. It's happening right here in San Antonio and we're just glad to be a part of it.”

District 4 City Council Representative Rey Saldana told a crowd of enthusiastic supporters that he is thrilled that the youngsters in local schools now have more opportunities to thrive than ever.

“This is a growing industry, so we might as well take advantage of assets when you've got them. And we do!” Councilman Saldana said.

“I'm pumped! It's exciting!” said Juan Solis, who fought to save jobs at Kelly Air Force Base from federal budget cuts 20 years ago. “The future doesn't have to be just working with your hands. The future doesn't have to be breaking your back. The future is using that brain that you have and getting all those things together and making a difference.”

Solis, who also serves on the Port San Antonio board added that the fight to save and create jobs in the area has never slowed.

“Our theme then was ‘No te acabes, Kelly! Do not finish Kelly.’ Keep it going. Today we are! This is a legacy, a continuation of the legacy that we had,” Solis said. “We're recognizing there's a new opportunity. It's called cybersecurity. That is an excellent opportunity to bring jobs, bring economic development to this side of San Antonio and continue to be the capstone that we are.”

“Back in 1995, the concern was the loss of all the jobs,” Garcia recalled. “Through the leadership of city council, Juan Solis and Tullos Wells, and others, we have the same number of jobs here today, 12,000, that we did back in 1995, when Kelly AFB was going to close.”

Growing new jobs in the future will only add to that legacy, Garcia added.

Solis said that it is important for local students to know that they can do well in school and continue to enjoy life in the Alamo City:

“They do not have to leave San Antonio to have the job that they dream of. It's here. It's at Port San Antonio, and Kelly lives on.”