Leader of Local Economic Development Group to Retire, Successor Named

Jun 9, 2022 | News, Newsletter

John Bush
Dayton Business Journal



PREBLE COUNTY, Ohio (Dayton Business Journal) – The leader of one of the Dayton area’s largest economic development groups is retiring. A successor already has been named.

Brenda Latanza, director of the Preble County Development Partnership (PCDP), has announced her retirement effective July 1. Latanza has led Preble County’s development efforts, including retention and expansion of existing businesses, business recruitment, workforce development, regional and national marketing, and community development activities since February 2015.

At its board of directors meeting this week, the Preble County Development Partnership approved the hiring of Justin Sommer as the organization’s new director. Sommer, a longtime public and private development leader, says he looks forward to building off the success of Latanza and the partnership team.

Latanza’s accomplishments include assisting with the expansions of several large companies such as Henny Penny, Pratt Industries, Neaton, Cargill, TimkenSteel and others. Recently, Latanza led efforts to land the $390 million Royal Canin pet nutrition manufacturing facility in Lewisburg. With a focus on providing service to existing employers, Preble County has seen significant capital investment and an increase in job creation over her tenure.

“The PCDP has grown and evolved with the leadership provided by director, Brenda Latanza,” PCDP Board Member Amy Leedy said. “Her unique skill set has expanded the opportunities for Preble County employers and residents. Brenda’s ability to be transparent and inclusive while maintaining confidentiality with businesses has resulted in retaining employers and attracting new employers to the county. It has been gratifying to be a part of the partnership under Brenda’s guidance. Brenda’s unassuming style has helped others recognize Preble as a unique place to live and work.”

Sommer has over 15 years of experience in development, serving in roles at both the state and local levels, as well as in private development. He has served on the PCDP board for the past two years, and also currently serves on the Edison State Community College Foundation Board of Directors. Sommer is a past president of the Ohio Economic Development Association. He has been employed as vice president of business development for Bruns General Contracting for the past four years.

“She has performed beyond expectations and has redefined economic development to make for a better Preble County, while placing the county on the map as it relates to workforce development, business creation and retention efforts, but most importantly following the mission statement of the Preble County Development Partnership,” Sewert said.

He added that hiring Sommer will allow Preble County to “not skip a beat” in moving economic development initiatives forward.

“I have had the opportunity to work with Mr. Sommer in the past, and he brings a strong work ethic, professionalism and passion for economic development,” Sewert said. “Preble County Development Partnership is so fortunate to have Mr. Sommer as the next economic development director for Preble County.”

In Memoriam – The Life of Dan Evers

I first met Dan in the fall of 2016.  I had moved to Central Ohio over the late holiday season in 2015 to begin serving as the new Director of GROW Licking County CIC, Dan’s former role.  I was immediately struck by many in the community who worried that I would “not be enough,” that the “shoes were too big,” and that “Dan was larger than life.”  And they were right. 

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OEDA 2022 Annual Excellence Awards – Call for Nominations

The Ohio Economic Development Association’s annual Excellence Awards program recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations in Ohio in the areas of economic and workforce development.  Submit your nominations today and have excellence in your community recognized statewide!

A panel of judges will evaluate the nominations, determine finalists, and select a winner for each of the categories noted below.  Award winners will be announced in conjunction with the 2022 OEDA Annual Summit, being held October 3-6 at the Exchange at Bridge Park in Dublin, Ohio. 

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