Mr. Jake Rouch grew up and currently resides in Erie, Pa., and perhaps his ties to the city fuel his drive to serve the Erie community through his occupation. As Vice President of Economic Development at the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, Rouch helps companies and businesses grow and expand in Erie on a daily basis. He stated that “While the recruitment [of businesses] gets a lot of fanfare, a lot of it is helping existing companies grow and expand.” His work stimulates the economy and fosters the creation of jobs within the city of Erie.
A long journey full of dedication led him to his current position. Growing up, Rouch never considered any high school other than Cathedral Prep. All of his brothers went to Prep, so it was more or less predetermined. His favorite thing about his time at Prep was forming friendships with his classmates, and his most memorable class was economics. Outside of the classroom, Rouch played on Prep’s golf team and played CYO basketball for St. Luke’s. He would continue to play organized basketball and compete in golf into his 30s, and still maintains a very active lifestyle to this day.
After graduating from Prep in 1984, Rouch went to Gannon to major in Political Science. While there, he continued pursuing his athletic interests recreationally and “was the original Gannon Gumby,” serving as the mascot at the time. He believes that along with preparing him academically for college, Prep gave him the self-confidence to know who he was, get along with a lot of different personalities, and enjoy all aspects of the college experience. Success at Prep led to success in college, and success in college led to success in the working world and life in general. After getting his degree from Gannon in 1989, Rouch went to the University of Illinois where he obtained his master’s degree in Urban Planning.
Once his formal education was finished, Rouch moved back to Erie and worked as an economic development planner. “Erie provides you with a very comprehensive and robust quality of life, without the expense and the hassle of a big city,” he said. “Simply put, you have more time to live your life living in Erie than you do in the big cities.”
While passionately working to better the Erie community, Rouch has never lost sight of what is truly important in life. From the start of his life, growing up with all brothers, he has recognized the importance of family. He appreciates that family will always be there to provide support, inspiration, and a kick the rear. He feels that family “gives you the confidence to go out in the world and take shots… you know that it’s not just you, you’ve got other people that can help you be successful.” When asked what his greatest accomplishment to date was, he quickly replied “Oh that’s easy; it’s my kids.” From his parents, to his brothers, to his cousins, to his kids, to his wife, family is and always has been a priority.
It’s easy to look back now and see that Rouch has found great success in his life, but it could not have been easy. He has three pieces of advice for anyone looking to find success and lead a fulfilling life. First of all, always be authentic and stay true to yourself. Secondly, stay humble. Lastly, don’t be afraid to put yourself into vulnerable positions, because that’s often where you’ll learn the most. It’d be wise to take this advice from Jake Rouch, a graduate of Prep, a hard worker, and a family man.
Brian Buseck is a former senior editor-in-chief of The Rambler and a member of the Cathedral Prep Class of 2017.