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RENEE WATSON
Director, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Department of Bexar County

For 23 years, Renee Watson has helped position minority business owners to experience growth and sustainability in Bexar County. 

 

What are your primary responsibilities? 

Since I’ve been here, our whole effort and emphasis is growing the dollars and monies business owners receive from Bexar County--whatever it takes for them to do business with Bexar County. And then when they start doing business with Bexar County, we seek  to increase expenditures to them from Bexar County.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your role?

Seeing a person that I talked to 23 years ago when I started now having a multi-million dollar business with several employees. She not only did business with us, but she now has federal contracts and is doing business in the private sector. Initially, she wouldn’t come see me because she didn’t have daycare. I told her to bring her baby in the stroller to my office and that we were going to sit down and have a conversation. She did that, and a couple of months ago I heard her retell that story about coming to my office. That’s why I’m here.

 

What was the defining moment that let you know you would be working in community service?

I needed to get a pothole on my street fixed when I was 14 years old. It was right in front of our driveway. We could not figure out how to get the pothole fixed in our neighborhood. I live in the inner-city, and I still live in the same community, in the same house that I grew up in. I moved back into that same house after I came back from college. Our neighborhood is 72 years old, and we just got sidewalks last month. It’s an inner-city urban community on the East Side of San Antonio--mostly African-American. It’s being gentrified, so now the sidewalks are coming from the city of San Antonio. I wanted to get this pothole fixed because when my mom would back out the driveway to take us to school, we had the issue of this pothole. So I started asking questions, and I learned about community-based organizations. I learned about City Hall, and I went down there to a city council meeting. For the first time, I saw city council members and figured out this is how you get things changed.

 

When you were a teenager, who was a community leader in San Antonio that you aspired to be like?

I really had four. There was a group of African American men—Rick Green, who lived on my street. Then there was TC Calvert, John Sanders, and Mario Salas. They had a group called Frontline 2000, and they were a part of the civil rights movement. I started hanging out with them trying to figure out how I could learn from the four of them. When they started going to community meetings, Rick—because he was my neighbor—would tell me when the meetings would be, and I would figure out how to get there. Sometimes I took the bus to show up where they were for community organization meetings, and I learned the public service process.

Read more in the premiere issue of DASH Magazine. 

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