Gregorio Gutiérrez / Jim Sánchez Conexión San Ángelo

SAN ANGELO – Three years ago Roland Peña became the City’s Economic Development Director. As the point man, he was charged with the challenge of, helping local businesses, assist businesses to grow, and attracting new employers. It was the third leg---new businesses which has been the biggest challenge where results have started to come, one-step-at-a-time.

“Every challenge has incremental sub-challenge,” said Peña. “First you have to have a vision with the end in mind and then you have to determine how to make that vision be fulfilled.” Usually that is done with putting a plan together and a program. “Then we measure whether that program/ plan is effectively working.”

COSADC has faced challenges such having to overcome transportation. “We have a corridor system, an interstate system.” 

Peña stated that while San Angelo has a regional airport with daily flights there is only one airline. 

“There is also an available workforce that we want them to become more skilled and that is also a challenge.” 

Roland’s point was that programs have been implemented to meet those challenges and to help COSADC succeed in fulfilling its vision and goals.

Conexión asked Mr. Peña, how many new businesses in industrial and commerce are already here in San Angelo?

“As you know, small businesses are very successful in our community. And I would say we exceed the national average. There is a percentage that is real that says many small businesses fail in the first, two-to-three years.” Of those businesses that do survive, they will fail in the next five years.”

While Small Businesses in San Angelo have learned to thrive, other entrepreneurs needed to ask themselves the question, ‘why is it that these small businesses are so successful in San Angelo?” “Is it that we have an entrepreneurial spirit by our City government that embraces entrepreneurship?” said Peña.

Director Peña then took CEO Gutiérrez on a tour of the San Angelo Business and Industrial Park which is strategically located along the Port-to-Plains Trade Corridor, adjacent to Loop 306 and the Houston Harte Expressway.

Peña said he was very excited about the development of the Park because back in 2000 the City of San Angelo Development Corporation and the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce acquired the 746-acre property from the City of San Angelo.

“One of the first projects which was housed there was Taylor Publishing.” Then about two or three years later, the company did some restructuring and moved all of their operations between Dallas and El Paso. About 100 employees were laid off which was a significant impact to the community. That particular facility has been empty for more than 11 years, Peña said.

“But through our program that I mentioned, it helps existing businesses; we worked with Principal LED to explore the possibly of their growth in this building.” “We helped to incentivize this company to move two operations from two different states and consolidate into this 55,000 square-foot building.” 

Peña was excited about LED as it is a homegrown business which currently employs 100 staff that continues to flourish. LED, which sits on 10 acres, is among six local businesses that sits on the Industrial Park property.

LED recently started a new line of business where it can retro-fit commercial buildings as well as residential homes with LED lighting to save the company or residential customer on the cost of their utilities.

When the Development Corporation bought the land, they had envisioned somewhere around several companies that would move into the Industrial Park and create thousands of jobs. 

The second local business at the Park is Warren Cat which currently employs 30 employees. The company, which purchased 14 acres, plans to add another 14 jobs. Peña mentioned that they are in negotiations with two other distribution facilities on one of the properties to build in the future. Also COSADC is negotiating with one local company on a corner lot that is expanding.

A third company, Angelo Archives moved its business to Industrial Park. The fourth entity is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; TDCJ was previously in a building that was only 2,000 squared but doubled when it moved to the Park. CJ employs 20 staff members. The fifth business that came onboard was FedEx Ground. (50,000 square-footage) compared to 4,000. 

And the sixth business, Cased Hole Solutions an energy company supports drilling rigs. The company purchased a 20-acre property which has a maintenance facility located on it. 

Peña clarified that there were other areas where businesses could set up shop, not just at the Park.

And, “What is the value of having these companies in our community?

“One of the values is the fact that the more we able to increase our tax base, because right now the tax burden is on the residential tax payer, because we don’t have enough commercial and industrial properties,” said Peña. Therefore, if COSADC is able to attract more companies to San Angelo, increase our tax base then the burden evens out and becomes less of one which means the tax payer pays less taxes.”

Then the taxpayer will have more disposable income to be able to purchase durable goods.

Peña concluded the interview saying this is where he came from and he wants to give back to his community.” “Leave it better than you found it,” he said.