Employee Spotlight: April Welch, Champion of Toledo's Economic Growth

Monday, March 18, 2024

April Welch brings a wealth of experience and a deep-rooted passion for her community to her position as Deputy Director of Economic Development for the city. She was born in Toledo and has spent most of her life in the area, considering Toledo the epicenter for northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

"Being able to serve the community I have been a part of most of my life is pretty great," Welch said. "Toledo is where I belong, and I enjoy playing a role in bringing people together and sharing experiences."

With a diverse career marked by significant achievements in economic revitalization, Welch's commitment to nurturing growth and opportunity in Toledo is great. During her tenure at The Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI), she facilitated the distribution of over 1.5 million dollars to underserved businesses in the Toledo market, playing a pivotal role in bolstering entrepreneurship and fostering economic development.

Reflecting on her work at ECDI, Welch said that she is happy that even in her departure, the ongoing legacy of support continues to benefit the community.

Welch said that meeting people and contributing to their business’ success is very important to her. One inspiring experience she had on the job that highlights her commitment to personalized help and community projects.

"One of the stories that continues to inspire me is that of an entrepreneur that opened a new restaurant in a once neglected neighborhood, that is now on an upswing. The restaurant is named in tribute to his mother, and the devotedness that he had for his business was truly unmatched. He was great to work with, if you’ve had the ‘best catfish in town’ you may know him,” Welch said.

Welch emphasized how much she appreciates the teamwork in Northwest Ohio, where everyone's commitment to working together for progress is clear.

"Northwest Ohio's collaborative spirit is remarkable. Even when I was not working for the city, I still connected with a lot of the organizations and people in the business ecosystem,” Welch said.

“There is just the best group of people in this area serving businesses, and I am proud to work with them. Their passion is contagious and is one of the things I enjoy about this work."

Assessing Toledo's economic landscape, Welch highlighted its strengths and challenges while she evaluates the small business development climate.

"Toledo has great leadership and people who care deeply about providing inclusive opportunities and amenities. Things are happening here, and we are starting to get noticed. However, every city faces challenges. One of the challenges I see is trying to prioritize projects because it would be great if we could achieve all the goals all at once, but that is just not realistic,” Welch said. "I'm taking time to assess what's working and what needs improvement," she added. "I want to hear from businesses about their experiences and any areas we can improve. It's a thorough process, but it ensures our next steps align with our broader vision."

Looking towards the future, Welch outlined her long-term goals for economic development in Toledo, which includes adopting a personalized approach to her mission. “I want to walk or drive by businesses and know the story of that business. Hopefully, by knowing that, it will mean that at some point in that journey I was a part of the story in some way,” Welch said.

“That's what I love most about my job—it feels like more than just work. I feel like what I do makes a difference in someone’s story and that is something I do not take for granted, ever."

She stressed the importance of thoughtful planning, especially regarding sustainability, and believes that the Department of Economic Development’s goals and initiatives are achievable and make sense for the long-term plans for the city.

As Welch dives deeper into her role as the Deputy Director of Economic Development, her dedication to Toledo's economic vitality, coupled with her commitment to community engagement, sustainable growth, and collaborative efforts, ensures a future filled with opportunities for Toledo and its residents.