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Forging Ahead....Executive Director Monthly Column

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

(By Erika Willitzer)

Agile seems to be the word often thrown out in the world of economic development and business. We have to be considering all the things we are juggling. The Defiance County Economic Development Office has accomplished the following in recent months with all our community partners.

  • We have strengthened our partnership with OhioMeansJobs (OMJ). We’ve recently teamed up to do a new podcast called, “Working It”, sponsored by our local Defiance County OhioMeansJobs. A big kudos goes out to OMJ Workforce Supervisor, Tiffany Dargenson and her relentless dedication to helping assist our office and the countless other business leaders. “If you are not familiar with OhioMeansJobs you may view all employer and employee resources by accessing their website. And if you want to be part of our new podcast, please let us know.

  • Workforce is a broad-overwhelming issue, and it’s one we are chipping away at with our educational partners and other workforce development entities. We are all in this together. One of the most recent happenings at the Defiance County Economic Office is the promotion of Kortney Williams to Marketing & Workforce Manager. Already she has placed several individuals into amazing positions throughout the county. She has a real knack for facilitating connections. Please reach out to her, if you need assistance with your recruiting efforts.

  • And some might say, why are you trying to recruit new businesses, when we can’t even get workers for the employers we have. I definitely understand the concern, but the answer is simple. We’re looking at the long game. By bringing in new companies, it often brings with it new housing developers who catch wind of the new facilities, which in the end helps all employers. Also, while speaking with Jim Drewes from Northwest State Community College, their research shows that in 2025, we’ll actually begin to see employers having too many qualified applicants with many of the Boomers retiring. By us playing the long game, it will assist us years down the road.

  • We’ve submitted for over 20 JobsOhio projects in 2021. Our office connects weekly, many times more than that with Regional Growth Partnership. So far we have secured $40 million in new investment into our county. We’re currently in the running for several projects that will hopefully bolster Defiance County’s ecosystem. Fingers Crossed - we’ll be making some announcements in the near future.

  • We are working with the municipalities, local chambers of commerce, and our visitor’s bureau addressing issues like quality of life and housing. I need to mention when we have debriefed with site selectors, all have given high praise for the efforts being put forth to improve the lives of our residents in Defiance County.

  • We’re also working on a consistent basis with Maumee Valley Planning to obtain funding for special infrastructure projects, and also assisting businesses with gap lending through the different revolving loan programs offered in Defiance County. Most recently Will Burns and Dennis Miller with Maumee Valley Planning assisted a local business with obtaining $200,000 for road infrastructure, which is expected to lead to the building of a new facility and 20 new jobs in 2022. More to come on that, when we can release all the information.

These are just a few of the many examples of agile leadership and partnerships occurring in Defiance County. They happen with great intentions. It’s one of the reasons I love my job! Our community partners consistently meet each other where they are at. They seek first to understand, before passing judgement. I know this because I’ve asked some pretty stupid questions, and local leaders lifted me up, instead of putting me down. The community partners I've encountered in Defiance County view everything through a lens of positive intentions. They are genuine partners, patient, and I only see our relationships become more powerful and transformational for Our County.

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