Port San Antonio's new President and CEO Roland C. Mower.
Port San Antonio's new President and CEO Roland C. Mower.

Roland C. Mower, a veteran Gulf Coast economic and industrial development executive, has been named the new president and CEO of Port San Antonio.

Port officials made the announcement Saturday morning shortly after Mower signed his contract, which calls for him to take the reins from retiring President and CEO Bruce E. Miller on Sept. 29. Miller has led the Port since 2002 and announced his planned retirement in January.

Port San Antonio President and CEO Roland C. Mower
Port San Antonio’s new President and CEO Roland C. Mower.

Mower has been President and CEO of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation (CCRED)—the leading economic development organization in the Texas Coastal Bend Region, since 2005.

“Mower’s economic development team at CCRED has assisted in attracting $4.6 billion in business investment to the Corpus Christi region,” a Port press release stated. “These efforts have helped bring about to the creation and retention of (more than) 8,500 area jobs.”

Mower said in a Saturday interview that the move from Corpus Christi to San Antonio for he and his wife, Charlotte P. Yochem, an attorney in private practice, will not be a difficult one.

“San Antonio is a very familiar community to me, I personally spend a lot of time here,” he said after signing his contract at Port offices. “Our industrial mix is very different, so we don’t compete much. Corpus Christi and San Antonio are probably more complimentary in nature, with lot of synergies.

“In terms of economic development, my priorities over the last 25 years have been first and foremost to keep what you have,” Mower said. “You want to help those who are here at the Port to expand, and ultimately you want to recruit other companies to take advantage of the resources and assets that are already here.”

Port San Antonio Chairman Alex Nava said Mower was the consensus choice from a group of strong candidates for the job.

Port San Antonio Chairman Alex Nava
Port San Antonio Chairman Alex Nava

“The search committee was headed by Wayne Alexander, the former chairman of our organization, and it was a long and thorough process,” Nava said. “We worked with the Boydon Group in New York, and there proved to be a lot of interest both locally and nationally.”

Nava said nine candidates were interviewed in San Antonio for the position.

Mower’s challenge will be to maintain the Port’s industrial job base, dominated by aerospace sector and government contract work, while developing the Port’s unused expanses and diversifying its economic base.

Two potential lines of expansion are cybersecurity and the region’s growing shale field oil and gas exploration and production.

“The Air Force is continuing to invest in San Antonio and has committed to looking at where they are going to place other operations, so there is a lot of opportunity for the Port to participate,” Nava said. “There is nothing set yet, but we are talking,  there is a great relationship there.”

Paco Felici, Port San Antonio’s vice president of communications, said rail traffic at the East Kelly Railport has grown rapidly each year since its inception in 2007.

“We are projecting 12,000 rail cars coming through the Railport this year, up from 10,000 last year, and 65 percent of that rail traffic is related to shale play boom,” Felici said. “Traffic has grown rapidly each year.”

An aerial view of Port San Antonio. Courtesy photo.
An aerial view of Port San Antonio. Courtesy photo.

Port officials said the growth and diversification in Corpus Christi during Mower’s tenure there attracted significant foreign investment to the Texas Gulf Coast. The Port’s press release provides additional detail about Mower, his leadership in Corpus Christi, and Port San Antonio’s importance to the local and regional economy:

“Significant recruitments in the last three years include an initial $700 million investment for an iron plant owned by Austrian firm voestalpine stahl (2013); a $1 billion investment for PET and PTA food-grade plastics container plants owned by Italian firm M&G Resins (2012); and a $1.3 billion investment by Chinese firm TPCO America to build a seamless pipe plant in the Coastal Bend region.

“As part of his work to bring these and other new businesses to the Corpus Christi area, Mower collaborated with a range of stakeholders, including Port Corpus Christi; county and municipal authorities of the Coastal Bend; school districts; Del Mar College; and various state and federal entities.”

“We’re excited about the range and depth of experience Roland brings to Port San Antonio as we continue to develop one of the community’s most important economic assets,” said Nava. “He will hit the ground running in support of our customers as they continue to grow in key industry sectors that already provide good jobs to thousands of families in our community.”

Wayne Alexander
Wayne Alexander

“The Port has established a great track record over the course of nearly two decades thanks to the work of Roland’s predecessors — Paul Roberson and Bruce E. Miller, whose service to the Port has been invaluable,” said Alexander, who served as chairman from 2007-13. “With Roland’s talent and background, we look forward to building on that foundation and capturing new opportunities.”

“I’m honored to become part of one of our country’s exemplary redevelopment efforts, and to work with the Board of Directors and a talented management team to help the Port and the San Antonio region reach new milestones in the years ahead,” said Mower. “This is an exciting time in South Texas as aerospace, advanced manufacturing, energy and other key industries thrive here. The Port will continue to play a central and increasing role in their success.”

For nearly 20 years Port San Antonio has been redeveloping the 1,900-acre site of the former Kelly Air Force Base to its best and highest use—creating the conditions that maintain and grow quality jobs. To date, the organization has attracted over 80 tenant customers who employ more than 12,000 workers, principally in the aerospace, government and military contract work, manufacturing and logistics sectors. Business activity at the Port has a regional economic impact in excess of $4.4 billion a year.

GDC Technics builds and renovates aircraft interiors in San Antonio for Boeing and Airbus. Photo Credit: Port San Antonio
GDC Technics builds and renovates aircraft interiors in San Antonio for Boeing and Airbus. Photo courtesy of Port San Antonio

Only about 40 percent of the former Kelly Air Force Base property has been redeveloped. Future construction at the Port’s Kelly Field industrial airport, East Kelly Railport and mixed-use Kelly Center could support more than 30,000 jobs upon full build-out—underscoring the large site’s significant potential to further benefit the region. 

In his upcoming role, Mower will lead a team of about 100 employees, including professionals in real estate and business development, airport and railport management, construction, asset management, finance, and marketing. Port staff also provides comprehensive customer support through its experienced property maintenance specialists—electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, handymen and a landscape crew that is transforming the large former base into a vibrant part of the surrounding city.

Prior to his role in Corpus Christi, Mower was CEO of The Research Valley Partnership, Inc., a regional economic development corporation headquartered in Bryan, Texas.  He has held similar positions in Colorado, including at the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation, Fort Collins Economic Development Corporation, San Luis Valley Development Resources Group and Bent County Development Foundation.

*Featured/top image: Port San Antonio’s new President and CEO Roland C. Mower. Photo by Paco Felici.

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is co-founder and columnist at the San Antonio Report.