Two Wright State University alums who hold key positions in economic and workforce development for the City of Hamilton returned to campus to share their knowledge and experience with economics students.
Aaron Hufford, chief of staff, and Jordan Schotz, workforce development specialist, spoke to students and faculty in the Raj Soin College of Business on Sept. 25 as part of a series of seminars on local and global economies.
“We work in local government and I think the program here really helped lay a base of knowledge for us,” said Hufford. “It really helped prepare me with critical thinking, my research skills, my presentation skills.”
During the seminar, Hufford and Schotz gave a brief history of Hamilton and talked about the city’s transition to advanced manufacturing, recent efforts to develop the riverfront and a new downtown sports complex.
They fielded questions from students and faculty about what they do to attract new companies to Hamilton, how they accurately measure the economic benefits and how they communicate with other communities and regional governments
As chief of staff, Hufford oversees projects on economic development and blight reduction strategies. He is also involved in budgeting, communications, policy research and quality-of-life initiatives.
Hufford earned his bachelor’s degree in business economics and his master’s degree in social and applied economics, pursuing the combined undergraduate and graduate program.
After graduating in 2013, he worked in Hamilton’s Economic Development Department as an Earl Brush Fellow, continued there as a business development specialist, then an assistant to the city manager and later a senior analyst. In those positions, he developed the city’s first labor market analysis, led an effort that resulted in the award of a $2 million grant for the Butler County Land Bank and helped develop the Hamilton Mill, a green advanced manufacturing business incubator.
Schotz earned her master’s degree in social and applied economics in 2016. She was accepted into the Russell P. Price Fellowship Program in Hamilton’s Economic Development Department and continued there as a workforce development specialist. She helps businesses identify and recruit new talent and works with high school students transitioning directly into the workforce. She also creates materials for businesses, developers and visitors looking to invest in the community. In addition, she tracks and manages data, including investment numbers, job creation, salary and new business prospects.
Schotz said Wright State gave her the data analysis skills she finds so useful in her job, enabling her to make sense of and use multiple sources of information about a given subject. She also said the ability to put data in context and to understand issues systematically helps her tremendously in her work.
Zdravka Todorova, chair of the Department of Economics, said Wright State’s master’s degree in social and applied economics is unique in the region because of its emphasis on applications combined with socio-economic analysis.
“We prepare students for versatile and lucrative careers in the government, the private and the nonprofit sectors,” she said. “Our students show real professional success due to their preparation in applying critical thinking and relevant research skills gained in our graduate program.”
A full-time course of study enables economics students to finish the master’s program in one year. The College of Business also offers a flexible part-time option as well as a combined B.A./B.S.B.-M.S. program.
“We are thrilled to see economics alumni happy, successful and involved in exciting projects in the region,” said Todorova.
Todorova was recently selected by the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce to be among its second Empower cohort of business leaders. Through a strategic partnership with Aileron, the region’s leadership and training development center, Empower is providing participants with a unique blend of hands-on business coaching and group support with peers.