Commissioners get update from TSEP

Four staff members of Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership updated the Seneca County commissioners on recent economic development activities at their meeting Thursday.

TSEP President and CEO David Zak he’s proud of the accomplishments of the teams now and in the past.

“We want to create an environment where talented people can make a difference in the county,” Zak said. “We’re continuing to develop as a team, and we are continuing to try to streamline and get better and better.”

He said the 4CG Partnership is one of the newer initiatives. The group, which includes Seneca, Crawford, Sandusky and Ottawa counties, works on workforce development strategies.

Zak mentioned the annual manufacturing showcase for high school students is set for Oct. 11.

TSEP Development Manager Audrey Flood said her focus is on rural areas in the county. She said she’s working on meeting with officials from each township to make them aware of TSEP services and to take an inventory of vacant buildings and potential development areas.

“I think that’s going really well,” she said.

Flood said she’s also working with agriculture and other existing businesses as well as entrepreneurship.

TSEP Development Manager Nick Dutro said Seneca County was named 14th in the nation among micropolitans for large economic projects, and he said the county’s unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in May and there have been no mass layoffs in recent years.

Dutro said he handles media outreach for TSEP. He said 62 stories have been generated from 29 press releases this year, and releases have reached more than 104,000 people on social media.

He said he’s working on more than 20 projects, and he expects two major industrial projects in the townships to make announcements soon.

He said one of first projects was the potential purchase of Ballreich’s.

“They continue to produce a great product that means so much to Seneca County,” he said. And next the company will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

TSEP Downtown Main Street Manager Amy Reinhart said downtown continues to grow.

We continue to see an amazing amount of growth in the downtown,” she said. “it is just unbelievable the amount of things on in downtown.”

She said there are 40-50 projects in various stages of development going on right now.

Fourteen projects used the city’s Façade Enhancement Grant Program this year, resulting in about

$275,000 of investment. Since 2014, the program has spurred about $2.4 million in investment.

“There’s so much happening I can’t even keep track of it all,” Reinhart said.

The TSEP staff also talked about the results of a recent housing study.

Also Thursday, the board opened bids for a taxiway resurfacing project at the Seneca County Airport, estimated by the county engineer to cost $337,432. Bids received were from Erie Blacktop, Sandusky, for $345,797.57, and Gerken Paving, Napoleon, for $364,957.86. Bids are to be sent to the county engineer’s office for review.

The project is to be 95% funded by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration and the state, and 5% by local funds.

In other business, the commissioners altered their meeting schedule for the next few weeks. The board plans to meet for its usual 10 a.m. meeting July 18, but changed its meeting the following week to July 24. The July 25, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 meetings are canceled, but they added a meeting at 9 a.m. Aug. 9.

The commissioners also heard from two applicants for the soon-to-be-vacant post being vacated by Holly Stacy.

Jim Cline said he has lived in Seneca County for 31 years and owned a small business for 12 years, and Bill Frankart said he has been an Adams Township trustee for 12 years.

Commissioner Mike Kerschner said there were five applicants for the position as of Wednesday.

The commissioners approved:

• A $950 supplemental appropriation to the Juvenile Program and Services line for contract


• A $1,105,197.60 supplemental appropriation to the county engineer’s Maintenance and Repair Fund for contracts and projects related to the CR 26/592 resurfacing project.

• Establishing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Grant.

• An agreement with Resource Solutions Associates on behalf of Seneca County Emergency

Management Agency. Director John Spahr said the rewritten five-year plan is to include all hazards in addition to the natural hazard mitigation plan now in place. The plan is required by the state and paid for with Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.

• Funding of up to $2,500 for a driveway repair related to a sewer project 15 years ago. County Engineer Mark Zimmerman and commissioners Kerschner and Thomas said the situation was an “exceptional situation” where reconstruction work had been done incorrectly.

• Two resolutions for joint ditch maintenance agreements with Hancock and Wyandot county commissioners via phone meetings.