Jonas Titas has been executive director of the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) for a bit more than six weeks, and he thinks things are going pretty well so far.

“Getting the lay of the land,” Titas said last week, “starting to put together some programming here, and excited about starting to get things done.”

Titas has a strong background in economic development, working for a variety of cities both large and small. He spent five years with the Tyler Economic Development Council, working on about two dozen projects that brought almost a thousand new jobs to that area. His work for the Kerr Economic Development Corporation helped Kerrville win the 2015 Community Economic Development Award from the Texas Economic Development Council. He moved to Houston in 2016 to become Director of Manufacturing and Logistics for the Greater Houston Partnership. In 2018, he moved on to the Conroe Economic Development Council to help with an expansion of their current business park.

Titas said he did a lot of research about Copperas Cove before accepting the job as head of the EDC. He officially became executive director April 8.

He said last week there are a lot of positives and some challenges that lie ahead for his organization.

“We’re very happy with the stability and the support we have,” Titas said of the CCEDC board and staff. “The access to growing markets, with the Killeen-Temple metro area growing rapidly, Austin ever growing northward. The infrastructure here with I-14, the BNSF railroad, the fact that we have a shovel-ready, beautiful industrial park. And a lot of the labor and skills that we’re able to draw upon from Fort Hood.

“The biggest challenges right now are putting together an economic development program,” Titas said. “One that will have value for our residents and help develop the Narrows Industrial Park and create jobs in Copperas Cove.”

Titas said his experience has shown him that one factor plays a bigger part in luring new companies to an area than any other.

“Labor, people and skills,” Titas said. “That’s the determining factor in 90% of the economic development leads that we put packages together for.

“We’re unique in that we have a lot of the attributes that companies are looking for. But we have a 9,000 pound gorilla right down the road, 45 minutes south of us.”

Titas said Ausin’s economic development momentum often pulls attention away from Copperas Cove and the surrounding area can offer an employer.

It’s a pattern he has a plan to change.

“Right now, Copperas Cove is basically a bedroom community,” Titas said. “There’s no real industry or private employment base other than service industry jobs. There’s a lot of people who leave Copperas Cove for employment or work on base. We’re doing an analysis of exactly who those people are and what skills they have.

“A lot of the data available (shows) who we are right now and what jobs we have right now. It doesn’t really tell the story of who lives here and the skills that are here.”

He sees several “fits” when it comes to matching up those skills with potential employers.

“Small light manufacturing, component manufacturing, distribution...and there’s a wide variety of other avenues that we’re exploring right now.”

In the short term, Titas wants to get the EDC board and the city council together to talk about economic dvelopment and get everyone on the same page.

“We’re about to finalize a date to do a strategic planning retreat with our board and potentially city council. The staff is going to present some options for our stakeholders and we can discuss our strengths and opportunities.”

Both the city council and the EDC board agreed to hold a public workshop from 2 to 6 p.m. on June 25 to discuss economic development in the city.

While Titas is excited about the next steps in his professional life, he’s also happy about another recent development.

“We have a contract on a house,” he said. “I am presently in a hotel and I can’t wait to open up some boxes.”

Titas said he’s just as excited about living in Copperas Cove as he is about working toward bringing more business here.

“It’s a true community,” Titas said. “(My wife and I) like the size of the city. I was in Houston for the last three years, so we really missed the hills and the fresh air and just the pace of life.”

dperdue@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7568

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