Career Opportunity

Executive Search: TSEP President & CEO

  1. Executive Summary
  2. About the search
  3. About the position
  4. About the organization
  5. About the community
  6. About the economy and economic development

1. Executive Summary

The Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership, a 501c3 public-private economic, downtown, community, and workforce development organization, is seeking a new President & CEO to lead the organization and its economic, downtown, community, and workforce development activities. Resumes and cover letters will be accepted at tsepsearch@tiffinseneca.org until 5:00 PM on Monday, May 16, 2022. Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience and qualifications. If you have any questions, please contact TSEP Operations Manager Corrina Haynes at tsepsearch@tiffinseneca.org or by phone at 419.447.3831.

View of Tiffin looking east from the top of the Seneca County Justice Center, a $15.6 million project that is one of the only facilities in Ohio that incorporates common pleas (county). juvenile/probate (county), and municipal (city) courts. It’s a true symbol of the real collaboration you will find in this community. You can also see the privately-funded East Green downtown park development with Frost-Kalnow Amphiteatre and National Corner with splash pad, where there are regular, free concerts all summer long. Further east, you can also see the outskirts of Heidelberg University. Tiffin is one of only five communities of its size in the US with two private universities: Heidelberg and Tiffin University.

2. About the search

The following press release was issued by the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership on 4/14/2022:

Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership opens national search for next President & CEO

Applications accepted until May 16

TIFFIN, OHIO – April 14, 2022 – Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership (TSEP) announced today that it has launched a national search to find its next leader, as current President & CEO David Zak resigned this week to assume a leadership position with the Crawford Partnership for Education and Economic Development. Position description and requirements can be found at tsepsearch.com. Resumes and cover letters will be accepted by email only to tsepsearch@tiffinseneca.org until 5 p.m. Monday, May 16, 2022.  

Lillian Schumacher, Chair of the TSEP Board of Trustees and President of Tiffin University, was excited about starting the next chapter for the award-winning organization that serves as the economic, downtown, and community development agent for the City of Tiffin and rural Seneca County. “We are one of the premier local economic development organizations in the country,” she said, “and we are looking for a strong, experienced, dynamic, and visionary leader to help us continue the success we have seen over the past decade.” She also stated, “I am grateful for David Zak’s leadership and wish him the best in his new position.”

Site Selection magazine has ranked the Tiffin-Seneca County micropolitan in the top 20 percent nationally in economic development for 11 straight years, and for five of the past six years, it has ranked among the top 10 of the 581 micropolitans in the United States. Since 2014, companies have invested half a billion dollars and created 2,800 new jobs here, and in 2021, the organization won the Ohio Economic Development Association award for Innovation in Economic Development for its small business relief grant program.

Dean Keller, head of the Search Committee, Immediate Past Chair and President of the First National Bank of Sycamore, said, “We have incredible collaboration here, and we believe you need a holistic approach to economic development. In addition to traditional industrial and commercial development, we also focus on downtown revitalization, community development, entrepreneurship and workforce development in order to be a community of choice where people want to live, work, invest, and run a business.”

Thanks in large part to TSEP’s efforts, Downtown Tiffin has received both state and national Main Street accreditation every year since 2016, as well as nine state awards for revitalization excellence. It has also recorded more than 70 new downtown businesses, $35 million of new investment, and over 100 façade projects have taken place in the downtown. TSEP Director of Downtown Revitalization Amy Reinhart has been recognized as Ohio’s Main Street Manager of the Year, and more than 50 volunteers contribute 1,500 hours per year to the downtown efforts.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz, a member of TSEP’s Executive Committee and Board of Trustees, described the importance of the search this way: “We continue to push for excellence in everything we do, and we aspire to continue becoming one of the best communities in the state and country. In order to get there, we need an experienced leader at TSEP to join our community and help us move forward with passion, dedication, and a high level of engagement.”

Rounding out the TSEP team are Development Coordinator Adam Gillmor, Seneca Job & Family Services Business Services Consultant Carol Owen Kern, and Operations Manager Corrina Haynes. Gillmor helps coordinate the Dream Big Tiffin! community development initiative, the Tiffin-Seneca Entrepreneurship Clearinghouse, and rural development. Owen Kern leads adult-based workforce development and the organization’s INSIGHT retention and expansion program. Haynes support the team, manages finances, and administers the Sandusky-Seneca-Tiffin Port Authority.

Seneca County Commissioner Mike Kerschner, also a member of TSEP’s Executive Committee and Board of Trustees, strongly supports both the organization and the search. “It will be difficult to fill the shoes of David Zak, who is unfortunately moving on. We know, though, that TSEP has a great team in place and works extremely hard to promote our community, communicate with stakeholders, and drive economic growth. We think this is a great opportunity for the right person.” 

3. About the position

Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership (TSEP) is accepting applications for the full-time position of President & CEO. This individual will be employed by the TSEP’s Board of Directors and will report to the Board, while providing regular reports to TSEP’s Executive Committee, while also proactively building and maintaining strong relationships with key stakeholders (e.g., Tiffin City Mayor, Seneca County Commissioners). The President & CEO is authorized to execute a broad range of economic, downtown, community, and workforce development initiatives and is responsible for implementing goals, policies, financial management, and providing leadership and oversight for staff and resources toward the accomplishment of the TSEP’s mission. As President & CEO, this individual is responsible for the overall management of the office and its functions; effective recruitment, development, and long-term retention of staff; and a high level of personal community engagement and involvement. This position is critical to the growth of Tiffin & rural Seneca County.

Young professionals (we have the second largest young professionals association in northwest Ohio) headed for dinner at the one of the Top 10 restaurants in northern Ohio (Open Table), the Empire at 138, in the heart of Downtown Tiffin. TSEP is the only economic development organization in Ohio running a Main Street program, and the next leader should appreciate the importance of quality of life and downtown revitalization to economic development success.

3.1 Essential Functions and Job Responsibilities

  • Reports to the Board of Trustees of TSEP under minimal supervision and demonstrates leadership and a strong commitment to the entire community of Tiffin and rural Seneca County.
  • Proactively builds and maintains strong relationships with key stakeholders.
  • Performs effective management and administration in planning, directing, and coordinating economic, downtown, community, and workforce development programs within Tiffin and rural Seneca County.
  • Encourages the expansion of existing industrial and commercial jobs and investment and the continued establishment of new businesses in Tiffin and rural Seneca County.
  • Along with the TSEP staff under the President & CEO’s leadership, promotes attributes of the area, prepares reports, and gives presentations concerning economic, downtown, community, and workforce development activities.
  • An office will be provided at the offices of TSEP in Tiffin, Ohio where the duties of the position will generally be performed.
  • High level of personal community engagement and involvement in Tiffin and Seneca County is required.
  • Full-time residency in Seneca County is required.

3.2 A Holistic Approach

TSEP believes in working on not only traditional economic development, but also creating a vibrant ecosystem that attracts workers, residents and companies, while providing them the resources they need to continue to grow. This is why we work on downtown, community, and workforce development. Here’s an example of the most recent employer video we helped facilitate for Taiho, a Japanese-owned automotive supplier operating in the Northstar Industrial Park, to help them recruit workers.

4. About the organization

Started in 1983 as the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC), the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership (TSEP) is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to driving positive economic, downtown, and community development in Tiffin and Seneca County in northwest Ohio. Tiffin and Seneca County consistently rank in the top two percent of communities nationally for economic development and has one of the most recognized and award-winning downtown Main Street programs in Ohio. Learn more about the great things going on in Tiffin and Seneca County at www.tiffinseneca.org.

Lillian Schumacher, Chair of the TSEP Board of Trustees, greets more than 230 attendees at TSEP’s 2022 Annual Meeting. It’s a symbol of the strong support for the organization by the public- and private-sectors. The community celebrated $76 million of new investment in 2021, involving 535 new jobs. The community ranked 10th in the country (out of 581 micropolitans) for economic development, received national and state accreditation as a Main Street community, won its 9th Heritage Ohio downtown award, and made solid progress in entrepreneurship and community development.

4.1 Learn more

Other places to learn more about TSEP:

  • 2021 Success Report (annual report): great summary of both the organization and community
  • 2020 Success Report (annual report): has a dedicated section describing what the organization does.
  • TSEP Connect: Events, social media, and publications.
  • TSEP Culture: Team survey, work culture, team members, and organizational values.

4.2 The Team

Here is the current team:

Amy Reinhart serves as the Director of Downtown Revitalization and has been at TSEP for almost 8 years. In that time, Tiffin has become one of the best downtowns in the state, and Amy has been recognized as Main Street Director of the Year. What Amy loves most about her job is seeing the results of her work. Outside of work, Amy loves spending time with her family and being involved with organizations and causes that help those in need. Prior to coming to TSEP, Amy had never done downtown work before and has a degree in architecture from Kent State (1997). LinkedIn profile.

Carol Owen Kern is a senior Business Services Consultant with Seneca County Job & Family Services and became a full “adopted” member of the TSEP team focusing on adult-based workforce development since 2016 – in a unique partnership that exists nowhere else in the state. Carol has implemented state-leading efforts in apprenticeships, business outreach, grant funding, and career marketing. During the summer, you can often find Carol and her husband kayaking in local streams and rivers. Carol has a degree in Spanish and English from Ohio Northern (1991). LinkedIn profile.

Corrina Haynes is a newer member of the Team, joining us in the summer of 2021, as our first Operations Manager. Prior to TSEP, Corrina was a full-time administrator and victim advocate for First Step, a pioneer organization that runs the first domestic violence shelter built in Ohio. She still volunteers for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and loves to spend time with her family. Corrina is a summa cum laude graduate from TU in Business Management (2021). LinkedIn profile.

Adam Gillmor is the Development Coordinator responsible for Community Development, Entrepreneurship, and Rural Development. He is also our newest member, joining us in January 2022. Prior to joining TSEP, Adam worked in the Ohio Senate for two state senators and helped coordinate communications for the OSU Wexner Medical Center to fight the opioid epidemic. Adam loves to read and has a passion for ocean liners and policy. He has his degree in political science from the College of Wooster (2019). LinkedIn profile.

5. About the community

Located in the heart of northwest Ohio, within a hundred miles of Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit, Tiffin and Seneca County are a growing, livable, attractive, strong and supportive community. It is known as an education community, with two private universities, a regional educational service center, an award-winning joint vocational school district, and strong public and private K-12 school districts. It is vibrant, safe, has a low cost of living, and a thriving economy, downtown, and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz riding one of Tiffin’s new Bird Scooters (2021). TSEP’s Entrepreneurial Clearinghouse helped recruit the local entrepreneur that manages the scooters, enabling the project to move forward in Tiffin. TSEP is working on developing the community’s first Entrepreneurship Strategic Plan and is actively working to help create a vibrant ecosystem that empowers entrepreneurs and attracts capital.

Check out the following resources to take a closer look:

5.1 For further research

This map shows where the community is located within the state of Ohio and in proximity to other major cities. Within a 45-mile laborshed, there are 480,460 total employees, with 80,570 engaged in manufacturing.

5.2 A Life Connected – Our collaboration makes us different

Also unique about the community is its very real collaborative spirit and ability to get bold, innovative, collaborative projects done. The community branding initiative was one such project. Learn more:

6. About the economy and economic development

This adaptation of a recent narrative description of the industrial, commercial, and economic activity and development prepared by TSEP staff for the City of Tiffin at the end of March 2022 provides a good, current overview of the central city.

6.1 Overview

Tiffin and rural Seneca County have a diverse economy, with major employers in the health care, education, government, manufacturing and commercial sectors.

1 in 4 workers in Seneca County are engaged in manufacturing. This picture was taken in the largest private manufacturer in the community, National Machinery, whose global headquarters are located in Tiffin, has locations in Germany, Italy, Japan, and China. National’s beginnings go back to 1874, and it invented cold forging technology. National’s cold-forging machines can be found in 130 countries worldwide. Last year, National invested $4 million, as it continues to grow and expand.

Total announced investment for 2021 for the Tiffin-Seneca micropolitan area reached $76 million, with 535 new jobs available. This brings the community’s total investment since 2014 to half a billion dollars and 2,400 new jobs. Tiffin also saw the average 8.1% unemployment rate in 2020 lower to an average 4.7% in 2021, with most current available unemployment rate (Jan. 2022) being 4.6%, lower than the state average at 4.8%.  There were no declared WARN (Worker Adjustment Retraining & Notification) mass layoff or closure notices last year.

On March 1 of this year, it was announced by Site Selection magazine that for 2021, the Tiffin-Seneca micropolitian statistical area (non-metropolitan counties with a central city between 10,000 and 50,000 in population) had been ranked 10th out almost 600 similar non-metropolitan areas in the United States for large economic development projects, according to Site Selection magazine. This places the community in the top ten for the fifth time in the last six years, with consistent, strong growth and investment every single year.  The City and Seneca County have been listed in the top 100 nationally in Site Selection’s rankings of comparably sized communities for their large, private economic development projects for the eleventh year in a row, and also have placed seven times in the top 10.  Qualifying projects must involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, create at least 20 new jobs or add at least 20,000 sq. ft. of new floor area.  The 2021 ranking included consideration of projects announced under construction or completed in 2020.  Seneca County had seven qualifying projects.

The industrial sector contributed the most in investment and job creation for Tiffin in 2021, as there were a number of existing companies undertook major expansion and investment projects. Manufacturers such as National Machinery, LLC, a manufacturer of cold forming machines, Grammer America (formerly Toledo Molding & Die, Inc.), a manufacturer of auto parts and systems, Dorel Home Furnishings, Inc. (formerly Ameriwood Industries), a manufacturer of wooden furniture, and Webster Industries, a manufacturer of steel chains and conveyors, are among the City’s largest employers.

6.2 Industrial Development Activity

Industrial parks

Two industrial parks have been created to foster and facilitate economic development and growth. The City’s Northstar Industrial Park, a 50-acre tract opened in 1992, is now fully developed and occupied by seven small manufacturers. Those manufacturers continue to expand their facilities and invest in that Park. The City’s Eagle Rock Business Park, a 120-acre development, opened in 2002 and has attracted four manufacturing companies. Expansion activity was robust in both parks in 2021.

TSEP has helped develop multiple industrial parks in the Tiffin area over the years, as well as speculative (spec) buildings. Our fourth 50,000 square foot (sf) spec building (2018) in the Eagle Rock Business Park, expanded later to 112,000 sf and occupied by TH Plastics in 2021, The next spec building will be constructed this year (2022), another 50,000 sf building expandable to 200,000 sf.

In the Northstar Industrial Park, Sonoco, a global provider of consumer, industrial, healthcare and protective packaging, products built a 46,600 square-feet addition on to their existing facility, representing a $3.0 million investment. Arnold Machine, a full-service designer and manufacturer of custom automation systems also located at Northstar, purchased both Centricity Automation and Findlay Machine and Tool in 2021, relocating most of those operations to Tiffin. Printing firm QT2 also had a great year and made strategic investments to expand and upgrade equipment.

In the Eagle Rock Business Park, American Fine Sinter, a Toyota-owned Tier II automotive supplier, invested an additional $5 million to expand production. German-based Grammer, a global player in the automotive and commercial vehicle industry employing 316 at their Tiffin facility at Eagle Rock, also invested $4.0 million with plans to hire an additional 15 more. Also at the park, private developers committed to erect a new 50,000 square foot speculative building, expandable to 200,000 square feet or more. The expansion of the previous spec building, also at Eagle Rock, was completed, as manufacturer TH Plastics moved in to begin production.

Additional industrial activity

There was additional activity in other areas City. National Machinery, the community’s largest private employer and the world leader in metal forming technology with its global headquarters and integrated machining and fabricating center near Heidelberg University, made a $4.5 million investment and worked to add 44 new employees. In the Wall Street industrial corridor, Tiffin Metal Products made a $9.7 million investment, and it was just announced they merged with Steele Solutions to create a larger company providing solutions to distribution and manufacturing facilities. Independent Pallet also announced they were establishing a new location in the former American Standard facility, involving an investment of $2.6 million and plans to hire 150 employees within the next three years.

6.3 Commercial Development Activity

The city of Tiffin serves as the principal commercial and retail center for Seneca County and some surrounding areas. Downtown Tiffin features City and County offices and courts and approximately 15 law offices. Retail activity is located both in the downtown area of the city and in the Market Street Commercial Corridor in the western portion of the city, where Walmart, Lowe’s, Kroger and Rural King stores and a mall and two shopping centers, a movie theater complex, numerous strip centers and standalone facilities housing approximately 50 smaller retail stores, service establishments and various restaurants are now clustered.

Tiffin University’s new Center for Science and Technology, to be dedicated April 2022, will be the new home of TU’s Center for Cyber Defense and Forensics, as well as additional STEAM-related activity. The universities help raise the profile and mindset of this county of 54,000 and city of 18,000 to that of an advanced and global community. Heidelberg houses the National Center for Water Quality Research, and students from more than 30 different countries are part of our community’s fabric.

Downtown Tiffin

Commercial activity continued to be strong for Tiffin in 2021, particularly in the downtown. Last year, 13 new businesses either started-up, located, or announced a new location, including 5K Construction, Art Studio 605 Fine Art, Hope’s Landing, Hoptometry microbrewery, Locks by Cactus Hair Salon, Rose & Co. Mercantile, SOUL Boutique, Sylvan Learning Center, Tiffin Youth Football, Under the Surface Records, and Yours With Every Stitch tailor. For 2021, there were 44 new jobs created and $4.3 million in new investment announced. For the fifth year in a row, Tiffin received both state and national Main Street accreditation, and the Renaissance and Barrel 51 bourbon bar was named Ohio’s Main Street Business of the Year.

People enjoying the splash pad light show on a summer evening in Downtown Tiffin at National Corner on the East Green. The economic and community development have been strong in Downtown Tiffin, as the community was the only Main Street program to rank third or higher in net new jobs, businesses, and investment in a 2021 report issued by Heritage Ohio.

In the downtown alone, there were 44 new jobs created and $4.3 million in new investment, including 15 exterior façade projects approved for improving the appearance of Downtown Tiffin’s historic buildings. The façade projects were supported by Tiffin’s award-winning grant program that matches private investment up to $10,000 to stimulate such investment. The City implemented the Downtown Facade Enhancement grant program in September of 2014 to promote the upkeep of downtown properties. Since the program’s inception in 2014, 106 projects have been approved for a total downtown investment of more than $2.9 million. In 2021, the program funded 15 projects for a combined $270,656.57 investment.

The Downtown Design Committee, part of Downtown Tiffin’s Main Street approach, also developed an art policy for the City, which led to the creation of the Tiffin Municipal Arts Commission in 2021 to help oversee the implementation of public art in the historic district.

Other Commercial Activity

Other commercial activity outside of downtown included the announcement and location of Florida-based Burke’s Outlet and Home Centric opened a new Tiffin store at the Westgate Village Shopping Center. Kuebler Shoes, the oldest retail store in Ohio, restaurant T.J. Willie’s, and Circle H Station were purchased by a new generation of entrepreneurs. Bird Scooters established a local branch, providing on-the-ground mobility options to both colleges, local residents, and visitors alike. The Miller Investment Fund purchased the 11,200 square feet commercial center on West Market Street and announced it had achieved full occupancy, with H&R Block, ProMedica, the Pharmacy County and State Farm Insurance operating within it. Your Legacy Credit Union recently completed a $1 million building expansion in the Wolf Creek shopping center area, and national chains like WalMart and Circle K and other local businesses such as the Reineke Family of Dealerships and Forte Music making investments.

Education

Tiffin is also one of only five communities of its size in the country that can boast two private universities, Tiffin University (TU) and Heidelberg University. Heidelberg University has approximately 1,000 students and employs approximately 300 staff members, while Tiffin University has nearly 3,000 students online and in-person and has approximately 347 full- and part-time employees. Those two private universities provide many educational, cultural, entertainment and dining experiences for City residents as well as support for community projects. Both universities are continuing to make significant investments in their facilities, including TU’s recently completed construction of its new 18,000 square-foot Center for Science and Technology on its 145-acre campus, with state-of-the-art chemistry labs, an exercise science center, and space for students to study and relax.

Healthcare

From the healthcare field, Mercy Health – Tiffin Hospital continues to provide high level care for its patients and employment opportunities. In 2022, Mercy Health – Tiffin Hospital was named as a Top 100 Rural & Community Hospital by The Chartis Center for Rural Health. In other recent health developments, local physician Dr. Chris Sears completed construction of a new office on Progress Parkway in 2021, across from the Willows at Tiffin, an assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care facility that opened in 2019. Also in 2019, Health Partners of Western Ohio invested $2.2 million to purchase and renovate the new Tiffin Community Health Center on Seneca Avenue. Dr. Daniela Cuadra opened Cuadra Pediatric Dentistry on Wentz Street in September. A short distance away on West Market Street, Bodyworks Fitness re-opened in 2022 as a 24-hour gym, and a new business called Active Nutrition opened at the same time.

The City of Tiffin has a proactive approach to creating a business-friendly environment, including the use of income and property tax incentives. In 2013, the City established a Municipal Jobs Creation Tax Credit Program that allows a tax credit of 50 percent of City income tax withheld on the wages of qualifying new jobs for a five­year period.  The purpose of that program, modeled after a similar program provided by the Ohio Department of Development, is to create jobs and increase the City’s tax base. In 2020 and 2021, the City provided MBDS, Dorel Home Furnishings, and Independent Pallet such incentives, helping generate $6 million in new investment and more than 250 new jobs. Tiffin also has five active Community Reinvestment Areas and a city-wide Enterprise Zone to stimulate real property investment.

6.4 TSEP’s role

Economic development coordination and service delivery is also provided through community representatives and the following county-wide organizations:

  • The Tiffin Seneca Economic Partnership (TSEP) is the focal point of the City and County economic and community development activities; coordinating the expansion of existing industrial and commercial facilities and the location of new facilities in the City and the County. In 2016, TSEP facilitated the City’s Downtown Strategic Growth and Development Plan, which sets forth strategies to stimulate investment in the downtown area of the City, including plans for projects to enhance the influence of the City’s two universities on the downtown. TSEP was also instrumental in developing a downtown parking study and residential development study, both in 2019.
  • The Seneca Regional Planning Commission (SRPC) provides long and short range planning and implementation services for the County and surrounding communities. It provides demographic and marketing data; information regarding zoning; technical assistance in the subdivision of land; information regarding physical characteristics of sites, maps, and descriptions of community characteristics. In 2020, SRPC and Seneca County Commissioners, with cooperation of the City and the city of Fostoria, as well as TSEP and Seneca County Parks District, released a multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan.