Name: John McLaughlin

Title and Employer/Organization: VP of Business Development

How would you describe your day job to a child? I think the most succinct distillation of what I do in the Stark Economic Development Board is that I try to attract, expand, and nurture business development opportunities in Stark County so that high-quality jobs can be created.

What led you to your current employer or job field? I spent 24 years in the Army, so service to the Nation and community is especially important to me. I was extremely fortunate to get this position because it allows me to apply many of the skills and experiences I gained as an Army officer to help Stark County and its residents.

How did you first get involved with the Strengthening Stark movement? I became involved with the Strengthening Stark movement when I started working at the Stark Economic Development Board. What I immediately liked most about the Strengthening Stark movement was the acknowledgment that community development and improvement is essential and complimentary to economic development. You simply cannot have one without the other. In my view, the Strengthening Stark movement not only identified the complexity of the challenges surrounding community and economic development within Stark County, but it also identified the need to adopt a more cooperative approach to contend with these challenges.

What are you most proud of in Stark County? What I have been most proud of is the level of partnership, cooperation, and collaboration among so many people and organizations who are committed to make Stark County a great place to live and work. My most recent experience with this has been through the formation of the Stark County Manufacturers Workforce Development Partnership in which CEOs of local manufacturing companies started to work together to collectively address talent development challenges within Stark County. What is so inspiring and humbling to be a part of this initiative is that it is led by CEOs who are genuinely committed to looking beyond their own company’s needs in order to address issues that are affecting the entire manufacturing sector within Stark County and beyond. 

What advice would you give to new Stark County residents? Theodore Roosevelt reminded us that glory and honor come to those “who spend themselves in a worthy cause.” As such, I would encourage everyone to find ways to use their skills, passions, and talents to serve their community and neighbors. It is not surprising that vibrant communities are places in which the residents seek out ways to make the quality of life better for everyone. While it is painfully easy to get discouraged and dismissive when things get bad within a community, I firmly maintain that we all have the duty and responsibility to contribute in some manner to make the situation better. Everyone has the capacity to help make Stark County a place where people love to live, work, and play. 

If you won the lottery and could purchase one thing for our community, what would it be and why? The pandemic revealed the economic precarity that many Stark County families endure. In my view, it is nothing short of tragic that so many families remain so vulnerable to housing and food insecurity. Moreover, research clearly shows that national and global crises tend to disproportionally impact those who were already struggling financially, and it takes significantly longer for more vulnerable communities to recover from disasters. If I won the lottery, I would happily donate some of my financial windfall to more effectively address this issue. 

What Stark County restaurant should we check out this weekend? Desert Inn in Canton. I spent several years in the Middle East and find the food at the Desert Inn to be deliciously authentic. This is undoubtedly the best local restaurant for lamb, in my humble opinion.