Wayne Economic Forum features top industry leaders

Wayne Economic Forum features top industry leaders

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The Wayne Economic Forum will take place Thursday, Oct. 28 at the Greystone Event Center in Wooster. It will feature four speakers and be hosted by the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dee Vaidya, chairman of NobleTek, is the visionary behind the Wayne Economic Forum. His inspiration for the event was the World Economic Forum, which is a partnership of industry leaders across the globe. The purpose of the World Economic Forum is to connect leaders to identify and solve regional and global challenges.

It may seem daunting to bring such a lofty concept to a small city with a population of 26,000. However, the area has been recognized as a top micropolitan for new business growth. So Vaidya and a collaboration of other businesses decided to take on the challenge. Could they create a Wayne Economic Forum in Wooster that would achieve similar goals to the World Economic Forum but at a smaller scale?

By all indications the answer seems to be yes. The forum has successfully featured industry leaders every year since it launched in 2013, except 2020, due to the pandemic.

“The event has featured chairman of the board from the J.M. Smucker Company. We had the former chairman of Chrysler and the retired CEO of GOJO. We've had some absolutely stellar speakers," Vaidya said. "I think the speakers are amazed that we are doing something in Wooster that is like the World Economic Forum. If participants come back with just one or two ideas, you can change your entire company.”

The forum is structured around presentations by featured industry leaders. “The common thread among all of our speakers is that each one of them has reached amazing heights in his or her career, no matter the field of endeavor," Vaidya said. "It is this caliber that attracts a large number of attendees to each Wayne Economic Forum.”

The other commonality linking all of the speakers is some connection to Wooster because each speaker needs to be willing to travel or already be based near Wooster.

Vaidya described the process for finding speakers for this year’s forum.

“Who could we find that would talk to topics that are of interest and high on people's minds? Cyber security is a request we’ve gotten before but always resisted because we were afraid the audience would fall asleep," Vaidya said. "But we heard David Kennedy was such a fabulous speaker. We wanted to get him knowing he was knowledgeable, and he was a great recommendation from a sponsor (of the forum). I am fortunate that we got him on the calendar.”

Vaidya went on to share stories about how each of the other speakers were selected based upon their connection to Wooster and the surrounding area and linkages to large, successful companies.

The full lineup of speakers this year includes David Kennedy, founder and CEO of TrustedSec; Meisha Lutsey, president of operations support and services at CACI; Eric Roegner, president of Amcor Rigid Packaging; and John Hamilton, retired chief engineer and vice president of engineering for Boeing Commercial Aircraft.

“The thing I look forward to the most is the growing attendance. I always like seeing the attendance be higher than the previous year. And eventually, we hope to make it into a daylong event,” Vaidya said.

The Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce has been working hard to prepare for the event, as it is one of a small number of major events it hosts each year.

“The forum has been a consistent source of information and idea sharing for the community. We enjoy hearing that this event offers our members the opportunity to network and collaborate,” said Samira Zimmerly, president of the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce. “The forum brings nationally recognized management and talent to our local businesses, with a focus on best management practices and overall business philosophies.”

Registration for the event is $75 and includes lunch. The registration link is located at www.woosterchamber.com/wayne-economic-forum.