A local business group known as Defiance 2100 and The Crescent-News will team this month to promote discussions about community strengths and concerns and what Defiance's future might hold.
Two sessions -- each entitled "A Conversation with Defiance" -- will be conducted from 7-8:30 p.m. on March 10 and March 18 at Defiance College's Schomburg Auditorium. Both are open and free to the public.
Each session, which will be moderated by Crescent-News general manager Steve VanDemark, will include a roundtable discussion format with 10 community leaders.
Defiance 2100 is a group composed of 25 community leaders that meet monthly to discuss community issues with a primary focus on economic development. The group has no funding or political agenda other than working to make Defiance a better place to work, live and grow.
"The events will be moderated with the goal of creating a meaningful discussion resulting in a broader understanding of issues facing Defiance," said VanDemark. "A great outcome would be to find two or three things that all participants deem as important to the future welfare of the community at-large."
Added Gary Cates of Defiance 2100, "We've tried to be strategic about inviting key stakeholder groups from all around the community, and so far there has been a great response in terms of interest to participate. Both panels should be interesting and should lead to some great dialogue. Equally, there is opportunity for the public to come out and be part of it."
Panelists will be asked to discuss their business' or organization's future role in the Defiance community. This could include strategic plans, challenges and opportunities.
The plan is to have no more than 10 panelists at each event.
Leaders who have agreed to participate in one or the other session as of Friday include State Bank President and CEO Mark Klein, First Federal CEO Don Hileman, President and CEO of Mercy Defiance Chad Peter, President of Defiance Promedica Hospital Gary Cates, Defiance County Economic Development Director Jerry Hayes, Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Cindy Mack, Defiance Area Chamber of Commerce president Isaac Lee, downtown business owner Scott Stambaugh, acting Defiance Fire Chief Tim Bowling, Defiance County Prosecutor Morris Murray, CCNO Director Jim Dennis, business owner Beth Sigg, Defiance City Schools Board of Education President Steve Snavely, Northwest State Community College President Dr. Tom Stuckey, Defiance County Sheriff David Westrick, Defiance City Council President Mike McCann, Defiance County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Schmenk, Defiance Municipal Judge John Rohrs III, Ayersville Local Schools Superintendent Tod Hug, Defiance City Schools Superintendent Mike Struble, Defiance College President Mark Gordon, Defiance Senior Services Director Tina Hiler and Defiance City Administrator Jeff Leonard.