Defiance native Megan Puehler has been named interim director of the Williams County Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO).
Puehler, 27, is replacing Matt Davis, who resigned late last month.
“Being so young and coming right out of my experience at Defiance College, it’s baptism by fire, but that’s how you learn,” Puehler said.
Puehler graduated from Tinora High School in 2010, then moved on to Defiance College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in communication studies with an emphasis on public relations. After that, she remained at Defiance College, serving as a graduate assistant for the music programs department and earning her master of business administration (MBA) with a concentration in organizational leadership in May 2016.
Halfway through her two-year graduate program, in the summer of 2015, Puehler accepted an internship with WEDCO. After completing her master’s degree, she began working there full time, serving first as economic development assistant, then as assistant director.
“I was brought on, and the main focus early on was getting reorganized and refocused, determining what our goals are,” Puehler said.
Early on, Puehler also identified needs for better record keeping, a boost in private membership and a more robust social media presence.
As WEDCO is one-third member funded, Puehler said she was motivated to “provide value, so people want to member up.”
“Matt let me roll with it; he was a great mentor,” Puehler said.
So far, results have been good: over the past four years, membership has quadrupled, taking private funding from $14,000 annually to about $60,000.
Now, Puehler said she’s also focused on creating new member-to-member networking experiences, and bringing in resources that will draw attendees from surrounding counties and states.
“There is not going to be a lack of service from this office, which I’m excited about,” Puehler said. “We’re in a good spot right now.”
With fall approaching, Puehler said she’s turning her attention to a pair of upcoming events: Northwest Ohio Manufacturing Day set for Oct. 4, and the annual Williams County job fair, set for Oct. 31.
She said that with unemployment down, she doesn’t expect a large turnout for the job fair, but noted about 15 people created resumes at last year’s event. Those can then be printed on the spot and distributed to participating employers.
“We’re trying to think outside the box when it comes to stuff like that, asking how we can be of more value,” Puehler said. “That’s been our approach to a lot of things: thinking holistically about the needs of our target audience and asking how we can do something different.”
In addition to her work with WEDCO, Puehler serves on the marketing committee of the United Way of Williams County’s Board of Directors, having served previously as the board’s secretary and vice president. She also is involved with the multiagency drug-free coalition ECHO (Educating Communities on Health Opportunities).
“(ECHO) has the drug-free goal, but we also want to take that next step and focus on the health of everyone in the community,” Puehler said.
In what she calls her “not-so-spare” time, Puehler — who now resides in Bryan and is getting married in two weeks — enjoys cooking, canning and travel.