Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo

SAN ANGELO –  When Roland Peña arrived four years ago as the newly hired, City’s Economic Development Director, he got the ball rolling in areas where it had been at a standstill. One of those major areas was the reviving of the San Angelo Business and Industrial Park, including filling a 55,000 square foot building which sat inactive for a number of years. 

After adjusting the sales price, mastering planning and getting it certified, all the hard work paid off as COSADC was able to secure companies such as FedEx. As of this year, COSADC has sold 120 acres in less than four years and has secured over $23 million dollars of capital investments and new jobs being created, stated Director Peña. Peña’s last day officially is February 28.

“Also, when I arrived, the Board wanted more emphasis on existing businesses.  We immediately got busy and put a committee together of the Board and staff and created a Business Retention and Expansion Program.”

“We even worked with industry to test the policy.  DeCoty Coffee worked with us and became our inaugural recipient of the BRE program.” “Hundreds of jobs have been created and retained as a result of the program.  In 2017 alone, we netted $22.2 million dollars in new capital investments, 314 new jobs, retained 210 jobs with $137.7 million in annual economic impact as a result of the BRE projects,” Peña said.

Those are just two examples Peña cited of numerous other successful collaborative economic impact results that he and his staff, along with other entities were able to achieve.

With Peña’s announcement made last month by the City of San Angelo to leave when he is at the “top of his game” in the business world, some may wonder why he would leave now with all the success that has taken place.  

 “Roland, you have been able to accomplish a lot in your position in these past four years, so why the decision to move now?

“My wife, Catalina, and I are in lockstep with this [decision] and for several months now this something we have been praying about,” Peña said. For Roland, this was not his first time to make this “fork-in-the-road” type of difficult decision. In Roland’s previous tenure, he was the Public Affairs Specialist for the Lower Colorado River Authority in Austin, Texas from October 2001, January 2014. Everything was going great for him and Catalina, both professionally and financially.

“In coming here, I was reached out to; I didn’t come looking for this position.” Peña, a person of faith and his wife, prayerfully considered about coming here. Just as they had prayed about coming, they prayed about leaving as well. 

Four years later, Roland and Catalina have that same “peace that passes all understanding.” The only difference between then and now is that Roland is moving forward this time without a safety net, meaning a job lined up. Director, Peña’s position is so time consuming that he hasn’t had time to look for a job. “I work until eight or nine O’clock at night, then get up at 4 a.m. for my bible study.”

Even though he has peace about leaving, his faith is being put to the test. “Scripture talks about trust and faith.” “I’ve never done anything like I have done today (decision to leave made in earlier part of February). “

While Peña’s future isn’t crystal clear, one thing is for sure. COSADC’s economic future is in an excellent position with what he and his staff accomplished these past four years.

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