Where do you go after a year like 2019?

Here is Nick Dutro’s update on Commercial and Industrial Development that was delivered Feb. 27, 2020, at the Annual Meeting for the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership:

I don’t know how we’re going to top 2019. Personally, my wife and I experienced the birth of our second daughter, which already sets the bar very high. But this past year was incredibly exciting professionally, both as I onboarded at TSEP and just in terms of the number and scope of the projects I was working on.

In commercial development, many projects that started before I joined the team wrapped up. At the Tiffin Mall, Planet Fitness opened its doors just in time for people to start their new year’s resolutions, and in the parking lot, Magic Tunnel and Panda Express both opened their Tiffin locations. New businesses that were announced and opened in 2019 include Penn Station East Coast Subs, which filled the last available storefront at 596 W. Market St., and Gordman’s replaced Peebles and expanded the retail offerings in Tiffin. Outside of West Market Street, The Tiffin Brewery opened its doors on Wall Street. The second craft brewery in Tiffin since Prohibition, the owners have made a considerable investment in this business and their product can be found at many restaurants in town, in neighboring communities and at the brewery.

2019 continued to be a strong year for announcements in the healthcare sector. Health Partners of Western Ohio invested $2.2 million to purchase and renovate the new Tiffin Community Health Center on Seneca Avenue. The facility houses primary care physicians covering pediatrics to geriatrics, counseling, on-site pharmacy and a dentist office with pediatric care. Dr. Daniela Cuadra opened Cuadra Pediatric Dentistry on Wentz Street in September. A short distance away on West Market Street, Bodyworks Fitness was re-opened this year as a 24-hour gym, and with it came the new business Active Nutrition. And Trilogy Health Services, winner of the 2018 Economic Development Award, opened the doors of the Willows of Tiffin in November.

By far, my busiest activity sector was industrial development. My career in economic development started before I actually had a desk, as David was sending me emails in December of 2018 about the project that would result in the acquisition of and investment into Ballreich’s by a local investor group. I don’t think I need to say that this company is not just a local employer, but a point of civic pride. These individuals launched a new chapter in the snack food company’s 100-year history, while retaining the 55 employees working there.

In early 2019, I visited American Plastics, a premier plastic injection molding company, that was expanding following the acquisition of the former Katy Industries facility by Highview Capital and becoming the sole manufacturer of plastic shelving for the Craftsman brand label for Lowe’s. It was my honor to work with Joe Roth, Scott Woodward and the staff there to help craft a message about their investment of $3.5 million into the Tiffin facility and hiring of more than 130 workers by the end of last year.

Additionally, Webster Industries invested $1.2 million into its business, Laminate Technologies purchased a new building, American Fine Sinter invested $2 million into its Tiffin facility and Agrati Group continued to grow its organization in Seneca County, with a $4 million purchase in machinery and equipment, a second year of investment by the Italian-owned company.

As we enter 2020, it seems that my question at the top is being answered. Already this year is looking to be strong both for existing companies investing and expanding in Seneca County and new businesses. This month, TSEP had the privilege to announce that MBDS, a Findlay-based manufacturer, will be opening a new facility in Tiffin, with operations to begin in early Spring. The first new industrial company in Tiffin in at least 6 years, MBDS is to locate at the former Tiffin Insulators building, at one time built on spec by SIEDC, and is to hire 29 people this year and invest more than $100,000 in the operation. We followed that up last week with announcement of Church & Dwight’s $38 million investment in its facility in Old Fort, with plans to expand its cat litter production, add a new fabric-care line and hire 60 people. I could not be more proud to have worked with everyone who made these projects possible, from the owners and plant managers, to the consultants, and our partners at Regional Growth Partnership — and especially David, the staff and the board at TSEP, who helped guide me on these projects. Seneca County continues to be a community that companies are investing in. This year, we’ll keep working with our business partners and job creators, many of whom are in the audience, and will be making visits to your companies and offer our services when possible.

But for this kind of growth to happen, we need workforce to support those companies. Last year at this meeting, we announced that the City of Tiffin had opened a housing survey to get a better picture of the need for residential development. The resulting study confirmed the deficiencies in the market. We continue to work with NRP Group on the second phase of the Tiffin Pointe housing development, but we know more is needed and will continue to work with developers to bring quality housing opportunities to Tiffin and Seneca County. And finally, we need to give people a reason to stay in Seneca County and spend their money here. TSEP, working with Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services, Destination Seneca County, the City of Tiffin and Seneca County Commissioners, already is working on finding a strategic partner for retail and commercial recruitment. Our hope is that by the end of 2020, we will have a firm chosen to actively market our area for new restaurants, retail and experiential businesses to continue to make this community not just a great place to work and invest, but also to live and play.

About the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership

Started in 1983 as the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC), the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to driving positive economic, downtown, and community development in Tiffin and Seneca County, Ohio, which consistently ranks among the top communities nationally for economic development. Learn more about the great things going on in Tiffin and Seneca County at www.tiffinseneca.org.

Leave a Reply