SIEDC board names new chief

Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. announced Tuesday that David Zak, chief of the Business Services Division at Ohio Development Services Agency, has been selected to be its next president and CEO.

Zak is to replace Rich Focht, who is retiring after leading economic development for Tiffin and Seneca County for the past 24 years. Zak is to begin his new duties Jan. 6.

Zak has more than 17 years of business and economic development experience. As chief of the Business Services Division of ODSA, he has managed the Office of Strategic Business Investments, the Office of Technology Investments and the Office of Business Assistance.

Zak also served as vice president of economic development for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, where he assisted in leading the community from a 25 percent economic reduction between 2000 to 2007 to a business climate ranked fifth in the U.S. for job growth and twice ranked in the top five in the U.S. for large investment projects in 2010.

He also ran the Economic Development Department for Fairfield County and led a real estate development and management company.

He also functioned as international business liaison with the Ohio Department of Development, which allowed him to assist new and existing international companies, work on a fuel cell initiative, manage projects in the Cleveland and eastern Ohio regions, run the site selection system and work on the business development strategic plan.

He is a native of northwest Ohio.

“It’s been an honor to help manage and administer state programs that have a big impact on Ohio’s businesses, but I’m very excited to get back to leading economic development efforts at the local level,” Zak said in a press release. “Tiffin is a great college town on a state scenic river that has ranked in the top 20 percent nationally for economic development seven of the last 10 years. Industry and agribusiness are thriving across the region, the downtown has great potential, and the people here are hard-working, creative and committed. I can’t wait to get started.”

Mike Spragg, vice chairman of SIEDC and president and CEO of Old Fort Banking Co., said there were more than 30 applicants for the position.

“(Zak) rose to the top of our finalist pool,” he said. “I am excited to have David join us.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Rob Huntington, chairman of the SIEDC Board of Trustees and president of Heidelberg University. “To gain someone of David’s experience, knowledge and track record of results is a real win for this community. We already share a vision for growth.”

Focht is optimistic about his replacement.

“We are very fortunate to have David join us,” he said in the press release. “He definitely has what it takes to move this community to the next level, and I can retire now knowing things are in very good hands.”

Huntington also confirmed that Tiffin Tomorrow is to merge with SIEDC to give a more focused approach to developing economic growth in the downtown business community.

“When Bill Reineke of Reineke Family Dealerships and Mitch Felton of United Insurance brought this recommendation to SIEDC from the Tiffin Tomorrow board, we were thrilled about it,” Huntington said.