Focus on jobs

Ohio Development Services Agency Director David Goodman and Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. President and CEO David Zak said Ohio and Seneca County are improving in job creation and economic development at the SIEDC annual meeting Thursday.

Goodman is in charge of the $1.2 billion Ohio Development Services Agency, which manages more than 70 programs helping thousands of entrepreneurs, businesses, communities and individuals throughout Ohio.

When Gov. John Kasich took office, Goodman said Ohio had double-digit unemployment. Now, Ohio’s unemployment rate is 6.5 percent.

“They’re not good enough, we’re going to do better. We’re going to continue to do better,” he said.

With Ohio back on track, Goodman said Kasich wants to continue to promote job creation.

“The thing we care about the most in the Kasich administration is jobs,” he said. “Anything we can do, each and every day, to create an environment to help businesses because it’s not government that creates jobs, it’s businesses.”

With the transition from the Department of Development into the Development Services Agency, Goodman said the agency changed its focus to accountability and small business development.

He said businesses were given incentives, but the agency didn’t always follow up to see whether the businesses were completing the work necessary to receive incentives, such as job creation.

Goodman also highlighted several of the 70 programs the department provides, such as the Incumbent Workforce Development Training Voucher, which provides additional training for employees in existing businesses.

He said businesses have issues with finding workers. The agency gives businesses subsidies to train people for jobs they have and any future jobs the employees could do, including working with new technology.

He also said the Vacant Facilities Fund provides $500 per each new employee to a business that moves into a building that has been vacant for more than a year.

Goodman said job growth in the state could be attributed to those who are making the decisions in communities like Tiffin.

“We have a long way to go,” he said.

He also praised Zak on his work and plans for the future.

Zak spoke about SIEDC’s future and the growth of the community in his annual address.

In the past two years, Zak said more than $63 million has been invested in the county, more than 400,000 square feet of new construction or renovation has been completed and 2,700 jobs were created or retained.

He spoke about his grandfather’s work as a small business owner and said business owners deserve respect, support and admiration.

“Those individuals, through their efforts, create a space for wonderful things to happen,” he said.

Zak said SIEDC’s main focus is retention and expansion of existing companies. While many organizations work on attracting business, he said it is most important to work with existing businesses to grow and keep jobs.

“Research shows that 60 to 80 percent of all the new jobs in a community are created by existing businesses … as well as the fact that 70 percent of the investment in a community is made by existing businesses,” he said. “It’s just smart.”

To work with existing businesses, Zak said SIEDC is to reach out to more businesses to promote growth and promote a “1,000 Reasons” campaign on why businesses and individuals should move to Seneca County.

He said within the next 10 years, he would like the community to create 1,000 new jobs.

“We want to do it because this community and its business owners and entrepreneurs deserve no less,” he said.

During the annual business meeting, SIEDC Past Chair John Arnold announced the board of trustees voted unanimously to create a new Downtown Development committee. The committee marks Tiffin Tomorrow’s official integration into SIEDC.

This year, several awards were presented:

Ballreich’s Potato Chips, Outstanding Business of the Year Award.

American Fine Sinter, Economic Development Award.

Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services, the Partnership in Development Award.

Phat Cakes and Cafe and TJ Willie’s/Dunlap Brothers, Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards.

PT Services, Lifetime Achievement Award.

Former SIEDC chief Rich Focht, President’s Award for his service with SIEDC and to the community.