Economic developer hired
Members of the Clinton Economic Development Authority announced Tuesday they have entered into an agreement to hire Roland Mower to be the city’s first fulltime economic developer.
Mower will begin his duties here on Jan. 2, 2019.
Until then he remains under contract through the end of this year as an advisor to Port San Antonio, an authority put in place to redevelop the site of the former Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
“The selection committee is in 100 percent agreement in recommending Roland Mower for the position of economic developer for the City of Clinton,” said Clinton Economic Development Authority Chairman Ken Baker. “Roland has visited Clinton on several occasions and likes what he sees.”
Prior to going to Port San Antonio, he served nine years as head of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation and has also had similar roles in Bryan, Texas, Loveland, Colo., Alamosa, Colo., and Las Animas, Colo. – where in 1989 he was that small southeast Colorado community’s first economic development director.
When Mower comes to Clinton he will have an annual salary of $105,000 plus city benefits.
In May the City Council unanimously approved setting aside $500,000 for the newly created Clinton Economic Development Authority.
The $500,000 would cover a five-year period and would be payable at the rate of $100,000 annually. That money will come from the city’s Economic Development Fund, which had $1.5 million in it at the beginning of 2018.
Private money, including funds from the Clinton Industrial Foundation, is also being used to help fund the venture.
While at Port San Antonio, Mower was making $330,000 a year.
Asked why he was interested in the Clinton job, especially at a much smaller salary than he had been earning, Mower said, “I got my start in life at a rural town in North Dakota. In 1989 I worked in economic development in rural southeast Colorado and enjoyed it very much. After going from small towns to the big city, I am ready to return to the lifestyle I enjoyed the most. It takes a lot of work to help small cities grow, but the satisfaction of doing so is like none other I have experienced.
“The best and brightest minds in economic development are not necessarily in the big cities. The most innovative are in small cities where they make things happen without the resources available in the big cities.”
Mower sees a grand opportunity for growth here.
“I am not sure people in Clinton realize and appreciate what they have to offer here,” he said. “Before I applied for the job in Clinton, I made a visit to see what your community was like. What I saw was a vast number of assets that have Clinton in a position to grow. The fact that you have an abundance of water is enormous. Being on the crossroads of U.S. 183 and I-40 and being the railroad hub are huge. Then there are the Route 66 Museum and the WaterZoo that draw huge numbers of tourists to Clinton.”
Mower also sees potential at the former Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base.
He likes the structure of the Clinton Economic Development Authority because it eliminates much of the politics that can get in the way of moving forward.
Instead of answering to the city manager or city council, Mower will work for the Clinton Economic Development Authority made up of five members: Chairman Baker, Max McKinsey, vice-chairman, Russ Meacham, Canda Dupree and Keith Ventris. Mayor David Berrong serves as an ex-officio member but cannot vote.
These were also part of a 10-member selection committee to find and hire an economic develop director for the city. Other members of the selection committee were Juan Garcia, Jason Giblet, Valerie Miller and F.A. Sewell. Now that a director has been selected, only the five on the Economic Development Authority will remain in place.
The search committee was given private money form the Clinton Industrial Foundation to hire a professional group to find qualified people who are best suited for the job in Clinton.
There were five finalists for the job with Mower at the top.
“I hope that my coming from the big city to rural America will also inspire other economic developers to go to smaller communities and help rebuild the United States from the grass-roots level,” he said.
“I am excited about building an economic development program from the ground up in Clinton.”
Mower holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography degree from the University of North Dakota.
His wife, Charlotte P. Yochem, is an attorney in private practice. On top of work, the pair also enjoys playing golf, bird hunting and riding horses.
“Roland and Charlotte will be great additions to our business community,” said Baker. “One of the best business decisions you can make is hiring qualified people.”