In its mission to recruit companies and grow jobs, the REDI Cincinnati team amplifies our region’s unique story to national and international audiences. This series flips the microphone for a look at what makes these passionate economic development professionals tick — and what they love most about living and working in Greater Cincinnati.
Although Josh Wice didn’t originally plan for a career in economic development, you could say the profession was part of his DNA; his grandmother Melba Wice started an industrial foundation in Northwest Ohio in the 1950s and was a trailblazer in economic development and women’s leadership before they had a name.
In addition to that legacy, Wice’s role as REDI VP of Operations and Strategic Initiatives represents a natural convergence of skills he has been honing his entire life. Early experiences working in local government and the corporate sector gave him an understanding of economic development from multiple vantage points. And now, he is in the final stages of a doctoral program in educational leadership with a sharpened focus on how higher education institutions relate to their communities to create economic opportunities.
Wice, who has been recognized among Cincinnati Business Courier’s “Forty Under 40,” talks about his unique path to joining the REDI Cincinnati team and what motivates him as leader and vital member of Greater Cincinnati’s young professional workforce.
Q: When did you first become interested in REDI as an organization?
A: During my time with the City of Florence, which is home to more than 2,000 businesses and one of the fastest-growing economies in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the region. I was working on the ground floor of economic development and I started thinking about ways I could leverage my experiences in the political and corporate arena. I noticed the remarkable leadership happening statewide with the JobsOhio model, as well as on a regional level with Johnna Reeder positioning REDI to tackle our unique three-state opportunities in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. All of these things got me excited about the possibility of making a broader impact in economic development.
Q: What changes have you seen since you joined the REDI team in 2016?
A: When I arrived, REDI was still a fairly new organization with a startup feel. The organization has evolved under Johnna’s leadership and differentiated from the traditional, standard economic development organization. And although REDI continues to embody an entrepreneurial spirit in how we approach big company development opportunities, we have begun to organize like a business, so we can better serve and engage clients to meet their competitive needs. I think that differentiation will increase as we continue to build on and prove our success as an organization.
Q: What excites you most about the work you’re doing?
A: The thing that really excites me is how creating economic change really is a team effort. Everyone can become a part of it and take an active role in making our community better. I’ve seen that spirit in the region more than ever before, from elected officials to longtime residents, exemplified in the fantastic work Jill Meyer is doing in the CEO role at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. It excites me to be able to help forge those connections and empower people to effect change. Economic development matters as it enables us to bring new dollars to be invested in supporting our region whether through high-paying jobs or capital investment.
Q: What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career in economic development?
A: It is an exciting, impactful and fast-paced career. One has to be enthusiastic about it, but at the same time, the best economic developers are able to think on their feet and lead both internally and externally. With my team members it’s all about coaching and providing leadership opportunities for them so that they’re leaders not only in their fields, but also able to take on their next challenge whether it’s at REDI or in another role in Greater Cincinnati’s development. I want to help them develop the skills that will empower them to positively impact the region.
To learn more about the REDI team, please be sure to visit our website at REDICincinnati.com.