Saturday, January 31, 2015

COSADC's Interesting Developments

The City of San Angelo Development Corporation (COSADC) held a marathon board meeting in January.  A number of interesting developments were shared by Economic Development Director Roland Pena and Chamber of Commerce Vice President Michael Looney.

Five potential employers are considering San Angelo.  They include:

Heavy Equipment Manufacturer
Call Center
Organic Dairy
Brokerage Firm
Home Builder/Contractor

As our oil boom deflates the West Texas Energy Consortium is "currently under reorganization and refining its focus area."

Three local employers received Business Retention and Expansion Program funding.  Staff did not identify the employers or the nature of public support.  The Board packet indicated funds went for training but did not identify which employers benefited. 

A specific airline was mentioned as considering flights from Houston.  At that point Mr. Pena acted like the named airline should not have been listed and asked the board and the public to be judicious with "confidential information." 

COSADC Pena sought permission from the board to not use the city's purchasing process to select a vendor for project management services for the next phase of AEP Certification of the City's Industrial Park.  They approached three local engineering firms, KSA Engineering, SKG Engineering and Bleyl Associates. The board heard two firms wrestle over what services would be provided locally.

The board awarded the work to KSA Engineering for $134,677.  Should San Angelo be successful in Phase 3 it would join Victoria, Harlingen and Mount Pleasant as certified AEP Quality Sites in Texas.  Not mentioned in the meeting was the fact that Pena once worked for AEP.

It appears COSADC also skipped the city's purchasing process in developing a new website.  The background packet stated:

Chamber of Commerce - Fourth Quarter Accomplishments
Leading the creation and maintenance of a cross-branded, COSADC and Chamber Marketing & Recruitment website, with links to all partner web portals including: Downtown San Angelo, Inc., The Business Factory, Concho Valley Workforce Solutions, ASU SBDC, Howard College and San Angelo Chamber of Commerce. Website will also include links to separate micro-websites for 1) San Angelo Business & Industrial Park; 2) Business Retention & Expansion Program (BREP). A local web designer has been.selected and will be engaged to create the sites for a February 28, 2015 completion and deployment.
Pena talked about a compliance audit with the board seemingly aware of its findings.  This audit explored the city's economic development agreements with local companies and the extent to which the city and the employer had fulfilled their contracted obligations.  The Martifer-Hirschfeld contract has been under study for years.  The board took this up under executive session but had no report to the public afterwards.  City Council will address Hirschfeld's obligations in its meeting next week, also in executive session.

Pena stressed the need to change the way COSADC's bills and approved incentives are paid.  The board used to meet every two weeks and this provided the opportunity for checks over $1,000 to be signed.  Now that the board meets monthly Pena is concerned about timely payments to vendors, partners and companies receiving assistance.

He closed with three new capital projects for COSADC.  They include funding new buildings at the airport, the industrial park and a corporate office downtown.  The last two items brought back memories of Shawn Lewis, former Assistant City Manager and Economic Development Czar.  He pressed similar issues before riding off to Longmont, Colorado.

Change is in the air.  Or, is it?

Update 7-13-15:  The new COSADC website is a few additional pages on the City's website with links.  The three pages with lots of links doesn't come close to providing the historical information from the old COSADC website, which could be mined for information back to the late 1990's.  Once again the city pursued style over substance in its web offerings. 

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