The Wayne Economic Development Council traces its roots back to 1989, when a group of local leaders began meeting to discuss economic growth efforts. Prior to this time, no formal economic development promotion agency existed in Wayne County. With a bustling and diverse economy, the issue of job retention and creation was not a priority. Companies like Rubbermaid, Gerstenslager, Wooster Brush, Frito Lay, the Packaging Corporation of America and others provided plentiful jobs and a good standard of living in Wayne County. Similarly, the agricultural industry in Wayne County was also a reliable source of employment.
A number of factors began to threaten the prosperity of Wayne County and its business community. Increased global competition, changing markets and a decline in US manufacturing (particularly in the so-called “Rust Belt”) created increased urgency for communities across the country to get more proactive in their approach to attract and retain jobs. To remain competitive, the WEDC was formally launched in November 1991 by business, governmental and other community leader with the goal of business growth in Wayne County including the county's chief industry - agriculture.
To support the new organization, a board of 13 members was be created with representation from the county, cities, chambers of commerce and private enterprise. The original board was tasked with defining the WEDC’s purpose and direction, and securing seed money to sustain the organization for its first three years of operation.
The WEDC was and continues to be a cooperative effort between business, government and education. The original guiding principles continue are still in place today: