SIEDC position highlights new hire’s strengths

With the hiring of Amy Reinhart as the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. downtown development coordinator, Tiffin might experience a more focused approach to its growth in the near future.

With her degree in architecture and her experience as program coordinator with Leadership Seneca County, the position is proving to be a combination of Reinhart’s expertise.

“I think between the two, that was what was necessary to make this work,” she said.

In the three weeks she has served in the post, Reinhart has been planning several events for this month and later in the year.

Last Monday, Reinhart was involved in uniting seven downtown restaurants and bars in showing the Team USA vs. Ghana soccer game.

This weekend, Reinhart helped organize two events on the Courthouse Lawn: the “Lego Movie” event Saturday and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Team USA vs. Portugal game showing at 6 p.m. today. Both events are sponsored by National Machinery, and the World Cup game will have tent seating available.

Reinhart said she hopes to plan more events as the summer progresses.

She also is organizing the facade enhancement program for downtown businesses. Reinhart said details are being worked out, but the program could involve partial reimbursement for improvements to business facades.

“It would be specifically for downtown facade improvement,” Reinhart said. “It would entail things like tuck-pointing, roofing, awnings, signage, windows.”

Reinhart said the program could be implemented in the next month or two.

“It’s going to be a kick-start to revitalization,” she said.

Her third focus this summer is planning Jazzin Tiffin, scheduled for September.

SIEDC President and CEO David Zak said after the transition and integration of Tiffin Tomorrow into SIEDC and the possibility of Tiffin becoming a Main Street Ohio community, hiring a downtown development coordinator was important.

“What it means for us is it’s a concrete part of the next level, with the incorporation of Tiffin Tomorrow, we’re taking over downtown responsibility and leadership in partnership with a lot of other collaborators, and we’re hiring (Reinhart) as that next big cornerstone as we get ready to do a lot of great stuff this year,” he said.

That takeover put all of the downtown activities with SIEDC, which now is completing all economic development and community development activities, Zak said.

“We can really align our efforts and we can leverage the resources that we have, both financial and our human resources, collaborations and partnerships, we believe we can get a whole lot done,” Zak said.

The position also is vital to becoming a Main Street Ohio community with Heritage Ohio, he said. The city is currently a Main Street affiliate.

“Main Street is great for many reasons,” he said, “one of which you get access to best practices around the state.”

Zak said because of the city’s involvement in the Main Street program, Reinhart will be able to compare the development of a facade enhancement program to other programs and will not have to create one from scratch.

“They have a standardized, successfully proven approach to downtown revitalization that’s comprehensive, holistic and incremental,” he said. “You keep building momentum. You work on getting successes. That gets people excited and you keep building on it, and I think that’s critical.”

The Main Street program also helps with leveraging resources, and since it is funded by the city, SIEDC and the city are more aligned in development efforts, Zak said.

He also said if the city is asked to become a full member, Heritage Ohio is validating that the city has the capacity and resources to continue to improve and develop. Involvement also opens the area up to more grants, since the state looks at whether a community has the Main Street designation when deciding grant funding.

Zak said Reinhart also would be recruiting volunteers for downtown events.

“Part of her job is to facilitate volunteers, and facilitate people who are passionate about doing things. We’re trying to create an army of people who love doing things in the downtown,” he said.

Zak said many great candidates applied for the position, but it part of the challenge was finding someone who could manage the workload of developing downtown and organizing community events through SIEDC.

“We’re trying to be a conductor,” he said. “We don’t make the music, but we’re trying to get everybody to make beautiful music in the downtown.”