Grow our region’s economy by connecting a stable skilled and supported labor force to meaningful and sustaining employment.


Drive economic growth through innovative regional workforce strategies.

What We Do:

Address immediate & future workforce needs of the Firelands region.

Build on existing economic & workforce development work.

Enable the region to develop strategies for a continuous talent pipeline.

Serving the Erie, Huron & Ottawa Counties

Advisory Board

Abbey Bemis
Erie County Economic Development Corporation

Andrew Kurtz
BGSU Firelands

Eric Muehlhauser
Mylander Foundation

Sarah Ross
Norwalk Economic Development Corporation

Jeff Huber
Civista Bank

Jody Meisler-McKilips
Firelands Regional Medical Center

Larry Fletcher
Lake Erie Shores & Islands

Lee Alexakos
Cedar Fair

Mary Jane Hill
Dorn Foundation

Ted Kastor
Perkins School Board

Bill Condo

Terry Boose
Huron County Commissioners

David White


Dave joined Firelands in late 2021 as the new Director of the organization, working with regional leaders to address local workforce challenges.

He grew up in Toledo, Ohio and joined the Army in 2003. He recently retired from the Army after 18 years in the Special Operations Community. Dave is wrapping up his Executive MBA at Ohio State. 

Makenna Laser
Manager, Communications & Business Services


Makenna joined the team in 2021 as the Manager of Communications and Business Services. In this role, she works in business outreach in Erie, Huron, and Ottawa Counties. Her goal is to face workforce issues head-on, utilizing her skills in human resources, marketing, and communications.

Makenna is a graduate of Norwalk St. Paul High School. She worked for her family’s business, Dave’s Food Mart Norwalk & Avery, before taking this role. She lives in Norwalk with her husband Joshua, a concrete finisher. Together they have two dogs – June and May.

Luis Quezada
Wellness Coach, Employer Resource Network (ERN)


Luis joined the team in February of 2022 as the first Work Wellness Coach for our premier Employer Resource Network (ERN). His background includes two Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management from Arizona State University. His experience has prepared him to provide case management, mental health crisis de-escalation, motivational interviewing, outreach and advocacy, and public speaking to businesses participating in the Employer Resource Network.

Fiscal Agent

Real people, working to help you make connections and get the information and access to resources you need. We’re building up the region in a way that benefits the entire population, and not just a single segment of it. This is what it’s all about.

Firelands Forward Strategic Plan

Covering a three year time horizon, 2020-2023, and developed with vast community input, the Firelands Forward Workforce Development Plan is designed to improve job skills, fulfillment, and retention. The Plan frames and builds coordination and collaboration across education, job training, and other supportive services to drive economic growth. It includes accountable and measurable solutions for improving the workforce.

Working to Solve Our Turnover Challenge

As a region – and a nation – we face the issue of high labor force turnover rates. Workers, especially those in lower-income professions, are leaving their jobs often, and this is causing instability for both employees and employers. What can we do about it?  Read our white paper on the causes and effects of turnover, and reach out to our team to discuss your insights and needs!

The Social Safety Net

We’ve all heard it – “the social safety net disincentivizes work” – especially in a policy environment that is placing more emphasis on providing public benefits to more people, in more situations. So does this narrative hold up to scrutiny? What are the reasons why, or why not? We’ll explore that and more in this white paper on the social safety net and the benefits cliff. 

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