Odis Jones

Sometimes you can have so many opportunities where you take on too much, and I learned to overcome it by taking a shotgun approach…You need to focus on the things you do well.


Odis Jones grew up in Detroit, Michigan. With a football scholarship, he received his BAS from Central Michigan University in sociology, followed by his Master’s in public administration from Western Michigan University.

Jones has spent the last 30 years of his life managing cities and helping economies grow from both a city and state perspective, both in the economics department as well as developing utilities and water server capacities.

From 2000 to 2004, as their city manager, Jones made Obetz, OH, the logistics hub of the Midwest. Next, as the CEO of the Columbus Urban Growth Corporation, he helped redevelop the Gowdy Field in Columbus, OH, into a business park. In 2008, he helped rebuild the skyline in Paterson City, NJ, over four years. Jones then returned to Ohio to help redevelop the waterfront in Cincinnati.

In 2013, Jones served as the CEO of the Public Lighting Authority of Detroit and led the effort to relight the city of Detroit, MI, by rebuilding the city streetlights and electrical grid. More recently, Jones served as City Manager/CEO of Hutto, TX, and led an economic boom that led to over $4 billion of private investment in the community to acquire a new water system.

Odis Jones is currently the CEO of Cobblestone Development. He resides in Hutto, TX, with his wife and five children, and is an active boater who enjoys the ride of the Great Lakes in Michigan.

Where did the idea for Cobblestone Development come from?

When I look back at my career, I’ve done a lot to help investors and communities bring together a mosaic of critical components that have formed a basis of economic development deals to create growth in communities. I look at it as the stones symbolizing those critical elements coming together to formalize a base for economic growth or stability for communities. We consult with cities and state agencies, and private sector leaders, to help them with financing growth opportunities within their community.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day consists of meeting with clients, private investors and city and state leaders. I make it productive by leveraging these moments to create synergy between those two clientele bases that lead to private investment within the community.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring them to life by thinking through those critical elements and bringing about financing opportunities that lend itself to a return on investment for entrepreneurs and a social return on investment for communities.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The current trend of the economy. The economy over the last ten years has been growing significantly. The great thing about the Texas economy, specifically, is that through the last few recessions we’ve had, it’s proven itself to be sustainable. It’s usually the last in and the first out of a recession. I think what makes it so recession-proof is it’s energy economy coupled with it’s finance economy for managing growth that exists within the community. So the trend I think that excites me is the healthy economy here in the U.S., and I believe that right now Texas is leading away on that. I also believe that the strategic advantages you get with a strong dollar have a huge impact on global investment, which lends to national investment.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m a strategic banker and a good listener. I’m a creative thinker, and I have a habit of thinking outside the box.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Enjoy the moment, you’ve got a great ride ahead. I worked so hard as a young man to prepare myself for where I’m at now, so I would say to enjoy the moment.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

One day, the Detroit Lions will win the Superbowl.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Nothing beats hard work. I think you’ve got to have the ability to focus on your habits that yield results. I believe your ability to focus directly impacts the work quality you produce.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

One strategy I’ve used is networking. I think networking is strategically important because you’re building strategic relationships. Those relationships will be key to growing your business, and then you’ll be able to leverage those relationships to value.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I think sometimes you can have so many opportunities where you take on too much, and I learned to overcome it by taking a shotgun approach. I have a more focused approach to accepting opportunities that fit within my daily work. You need to focus on the things you do well.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I think there is a real opportunity that exists in this market of service. I believe the young people in this country are thirsty for ways to provide service, particularly to the elderly, and there’s an opportunity here to help young people translate their ideas and efforts to a service in a way that’s meaningful for their lives.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I spent recently was taking my kids to the movie theatre. Just hearing them laugh at the movie was truly amazing. I don’t even think I watched the movie itself; I just sat there listening to them. I believe it was Frozen 2.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I like Adobe. It gives me the ability to formulate documents in a secure manner.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. It teaches you three techniques for being an effective manager. These are one-minute goals, one-minute praisings, and one-minute reprimands. I believe this book helps you to begin to focus your thoughts on building a positive culture, drive, and value to add to your company.

What is your favorite quote?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Key Learnings:

  • Be sure and enjoy life too!
  • Take on things that you excel at.
  • The service market will continue to evolve.