EDC hires new executive director
By LYNETTE SOWELL
After a pair of interviews last week, the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation board of directors voted unanimously on Wednesday morning to extend an offer of employment to Jonas Titas to be the EDC’s next executive director.
Titas was one of two candidates invited to Copperas Cove to interview for the position.
According to a press release issued by the EDC, Titas has a “15-year track record of proven results and has worked throughout the state on a multitude of projects.”
In 2018, Titas joined the Conroe Economic Development Council (CEDC) to help companies and projects that had selected Conroe for expansions and the development of a 600 acre expansion of their current industrial park set to open later this year.
He was previously the director for all manufacturing and logistics projects for the Greater Houston Partnership, a 14-county Gulf Region. He was tasked with bringing together numerous local and regional partners to facilitate large, complex projects.
Prior to that, Titas was executive director for the Kerr Economic Development Corporation, where he wrote policies for the creation and utilization of local economic development incentive programs. In 2015, Kerrville won the 2015 Texas Economic Development Council’s Community Economic Development Award, based on work to establish large production facilities in Kerr County.
Titas also spent five years with the Tyler Economic Development Council, where he participated in 22 projects that created 931 new jobs, retained 3,095 jobs and invested $171.24 million.
Titas has a Bachelor of Arts in Government, Geography and History from the University of South Carolina, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Tyler. He is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at Oklahoma University and is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council.
He and his wife Lessly, along with their two dogs, will be relocating from Houston, and are looking forward to the move to Copperas Cove. Lessly is a bilingual teaching assistant at the Klein Independent School District and is currently finishing a master’s degree in Education Administration at Lamar University.
“(I have) always felt a sense of community and responsibility that has encouraged me to give back and attempt to be the best person I can be. With this value structure, I have devoted my professional life to a career to help make real and tangible benefits for others. Our goal as economic developers is to create jobs, wealth and a better life for our constituents,” Titas stated in the EDC press release.
EDC board chair Adam Martin shared after Wednesday’s meeting what stood out to him about Titas.
“He has experience in towns similar to the size of Copperas Cove but also much bigger. He’s very well credentialed and I believe he has some very good ideas for where the Copperas Cove EDC can go,” Martin said. First up for the EDC and Titas will be crafting a strategic plan, he added.
“We need to see what works for Copperas Cove. We would love to have something like James Avery here,” Martin said, referring to one of Titas’ past projects. “We need to assess where we are, what we can attract with our business park, where we need to go with that. We’re looking for those kind of industries but we need to see where we are.”
As far as the EDC’s current projects like “Etch” and “Glow”, Titas will be the EDC’s front man on those projects.
“He’ll be our spokesman, the leader of the group when it comes to negotiating those, figuring out the best way we can attract them, he’ll be doing any heavy lifting.”
Diane Drussell has served as the interim executive director and will work closely with Titas in her position as assistant director.
“Last year, when I was promoted to assisted director, that took over the business development position. I’ll be focusing on marketing,” Drussell said, adding that the EDC will be holding business workshops in the future on websites, social media, and how businesses can be in compliance regarding sales tax and other business legal matters.
“We are very proud of the work Diane has done over the last year and a half,” Martin said. “What a blessing for the city that we will have Diane and Jonas working for the EDC to get things moving and growing.”
Titas was hired from an initial pool of 22 applicants, which was then whittled to 11. The search for the executive director was conducted by Austin-based Johnson & Associates, which accepted applications and resumes through Feb. 15. The salary for the position was listed at $115,000 depending upon experience and qualifications.