The first newsletter of 2021 brings with it a “Goodbye” and a ”Hello”. Jerry Hayes has officially retired from the Executor Director position he held for over 21 years. I have had quite a few people say, “So you’re the new Jerry.”  I always responded by saying…”Yes, that is me.” But if I am being honest. I am not. I do not have the 20 plus years Mr. Hayes had in Defiance County. He definitely left an imprint on the communities he served. He is an asset, we will definitely miss, but as Jerry told me, he’s retiring from the position, not the community. We are so happy for Jerry, knowing he will get more time to spend on his farm, and most importantly with this family.

While I have not been integrated into the Defiance County community for over 20 plus years. What I do have is a passion to build upon the great organization already in existence. I promise to work like crazy to make sure I can pull economic development projects together, always with the county’s best interest at heart.

If you do not know me, I have been doing economic and community development for almost 10 years. I was not looking to be in the economic development world; it found me. I have a degree in communications and was in the media industry for many years when the grind of being a news anchor/news reporter weighed on me. My husband Bill and I decided that we really needed a change of pace for our family. So, from there, I became the Executive Director at the Paulding Chamber of Commerce, which eventually led me to doing economic development for Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative. While at the co-op, I was able to lead several initiatives, one of my favorites was the creation of the Paulding County Vision Board, and the implementation of a countywide comprehensive plan. It was an honor to see how all the small communities came together in the county to truly collaborate on several projects.

Economic development is not easy. It is quite complex. It is often whittled down to “jobs created or retained”. But it is so much more than that today.  Economic development is about revitalized downtowns,  housing, transportation, broadband access, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and more.

To balance all these different elements, I believe we need to have an all-encompassing approach. Our office will always emphasize on assisting  industrial and commercial companies, but if we don’t pay attention to what’s happening in other sectors, we may miss the mark. For example, I’ve seen firsthand in another community, where a developer wanted to locate a facility, but once they physically saw that the housing and quality of life wasn’t up to their standards, they passed on the location.

So how do you balance all the different pieces of the puzzle, so you don’t miss out on opportunities? It comes down to partnerships and measuring those pieces. To help put it into perspective, the movie “Moneyball” is the best example. If you are not familiar with the true story plot line, the story focuses on the Oakland Athletics, a second-tier baseball team with a small budget. Athletics General Manager, Billy Beane played by actor Brad Pitt, realized a good team need not be about star players. Instead of individuals, it was about the whole team’s ability to win. And that meant looking more closely at why teams win. Beane concluded that it meant getting on base. And that meant walking was as valuable as hitting. It meant recognizing the small stuff that most people ignored. While most thought he was crazy, his plan worked, and his wins racked up. Now, his model is used throughout the Major Leagues.

This same method can be used in economic development too, but it will mean collaboration on a county-wide scale. And it will mean measuring -tracking our county’s data *not* on a regular basis, but a DAILY BASIS!  So, I ask the question…Who’s ready to play some ball!

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