Envision Greater Fond du Lac to be led by experienced economic developer

The new Envision Greater Fond du Lac will be led by CEO Cecilia Harry, a certified economic developer with experience in several states.

The Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation is merging with the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce to form the new group and strengthen the region by aligning workforce and economic development efforts.

The former president of the Fond du Lac EDC, Steve Jenkins, is heading to the Sandoval Economic Alliance in Rio Rancho, N.M. as president on July 17.

He says he didn’t pursue a leadership role in the new organization, because he “didn’t think it would be a good fit for me, for my skill set.”

“The community felt that they could have a larger impact by combining, focusing efforts on economic development and workforce development,” Jenkins told WisBusiness.com. “They thought it was time to look at a new model — hopefully that will produce tremendous results.”

Tom Schneider, who served as president of the Fond du Lac Association of Commerce and will sit on the board of Envision, says the organizations merged because of the feeling some initiatives — particularly surrounding entrepreneurship — were redundant.

“It became almost like a competition between the two,” Schneider said, adding that the duplication of effort was causing confusion for businesses and investors in the area.

As a new force with years of combined experience, Schneider says Envision Greater Fond du Lac will produce better collaboration and communication while reducing donor and volunteer fatigue under Harry’s guidance.

She had previously joined up with the Greater Fremont Development Council and the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership in 2013. She has worked on workforce development partnerships, as well as project management and capital investment campaigns.

“Cecilia’s energy and passion for economic and workforce development align extremely well with the needs of this new organization and the people we serve,” Schneider said. “Her proven ability to build strong relationships with business leaders makes her a great fit to lead us into the future.”

She also headed up efforts which led to Costco selecting Fremont for its poultry processing facility.

Before that, she worked for the Leavenworth County Development Corporation and grew the group’s business retention and expansion program. She also spent time in social work with the Department of Child Services in Indiana.

“Cecilia’s experience working in a smaller community that is part of a larger regional geography is extremely relevant to the approach Envision Greater Fond du Lac, Inc. will take,” said Jim Eden, former FCEDC board chair. “She understands how to bring communities together to work toward a common goal.”

“We really like her,” Schneider added. “We’re going to work with her, see what her needs are going to be.”

Harry is on the board of directors for the International Economic Development Council, which has over 5,000 members worldwide. She will begin working for Envision Greater Fond du Lac in July.

–By Alex Moe