Renee Smith

Seneca County Land Bank awarded over $4 million

ni-programPress release from the Fostoria Economic Development Corporation

The Seneca County Land bank received over $4 million in Neighborhood Initiative Program funds to demolish blighted houses in the county – $4,025,000 to be exact.  Seneca County was one of the highest funded counties which speaks highly to the quality of the project, the application and the partners involved.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Seneca County,” Seneca County Treasurer Damon Alt said.  “This kind of money will allow us to eliminate blighted houses and increase overall property values in area neighborhoods.”

Currently, the Land Bank has identified 161 properties throughout the county for potential demolition with this award.  This allocation was made possible because of the large number of partners, including (but not limited to) the Seneca County Commissioners, the Seneca County Treasurer’s Office, the Seneca County Prosecutor’s Office, the City of Tiffin, the City of Fostoria, and the Fostoria Economic Development Corporation office.

“For a community like Fostoria, this kind of money will have a tremendous impact,” said Renee Smith, President of the Fostoria Economic Development Corporation.  “Citizens will see the results of this funding and it will benefit the entire county.”

Seneca County formed the Land Bank in November of 2015 by resolution of the Seneca County Commissioners.  A Land Bank is a tool used to strategically acquire properties, return them to productive use, reduce blight, increase property values, and improve the quality of life for county residents.  The formation of the Land Bank demonstrated our elected official’s commitment to healthy, sustainable community redevelopment within Seneca County.

The Seneca County Land Bank will begin acquiring the identified properties and demolition activity will then follow.  This will be an ongoing process but will directly impact property values, safety and even community pride.

 

Seneca County Manufacturing Showcase success for students, local businesses

SCMS_logoThe first ever Seneca County Manufacturing Showcase was held at Heidelberg University today, giving 750 high-school students from 12 schools a chance to explore different skills valued in the workplace, specifically in manufacturing.

Fourteen local manufacturers led students through six different skill sets. The kids learned about team building, lean practices, employability, supply chain, machine trades and electrical trades/mechanical engineering/automation through interactive booths staffed by local companies.

Spearheading the coordination of the event was Carol Kern of the Seneca Department of Job and Family Services. Kern was pleased with the outcome of the event,”It’s exciting to see the students so engaged,” she said. “Hopefully they enjoyed the activities and learned a lot about career opportunities in Seneca County.”

Chase Eikenbary of Regional Growth Partnership/JobsOhio stressed the importance of introducing students to career skills early. “October is manufacturing month in Ohio, and it means great things for not only the manufacturing companies in the state but for the pipeline of our future workforce; our students,” she said. “Manufacturing careers are in high demand, provide excellent salaries, and allow employees to work in a high tech, growing industry. Students today were shown how they can become successful adults in their own communities with thriving career options.”

Fostoria Economic Development Corporation President Renee Smith agreed. “Manufacturing is a huge economic component of Seneca County, and it is the largest employer. It is essential that we continue to expose students to the career possibilities with our local companies,” she said.

Nearly 100 volunteers, including teachers from participating school districts, guided students through the planned activities. Tiffin City Schools Business Teacher Stacey Geiger said the event was rewarding as an educator. “It is exciting to see students engaged with Seneca County employers and using the knowledge that I incorporate in my classrooms,” she said.

Carl Pastorella, Human Resources Manager at Toledo Molding and Die, Inc. manning a booth centered around employability, was impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and knowledge. “The students we met got very involved in the activities we were presenting,” he said. “Our intent is to make sure they are prepared to get out and interview for jobs in future, and they already seem to be on the right track.”

Seneca County is also fortunate to have great relationships with state officials who are passionate about workforce development and how it pertains to our young people.

State Representative Bill Reineke, a Fostoria native and Tiffin resident, spoke to the students about the importance of manufacturing and their local community:

Ryan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, also addressed the students, introducing them to Ohio Means Jobs and the tools the program provides for job seekers:

Check out some of the pictures from the event:

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Fostoria “right on track” for 2015

2015_01_22 - Fostoria Dream Team

The Fostoria “Dream Team” – Mayor Eric Keckler, Chamber Exec. Sally McDonald, and FEDC Director Renee Smith

I just attended the 100th annual meeting of the Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce held at the beautiful Good Shepherd Home (which just celebrated a $2M expansion.) In attendance were scores of local and state leaders eager to celebrate the great year that Fostoria had and look forward to the year to come.

New Chamber Executive Director Sally McDonald kicked it off by sharing her theme of “I think I can; I think we can; I know we can; We can;” playing on the Little Engine That Could story. It was totally appropriate given Fostoria’s rail heritage and the fact that 1,000 trains go through the community every day. She set a course for focusing on positive messages – each attendee received the “homework” to provide a positive message for the 100 Days of Good News the Chamber will be sending out. She also pledged to commit to focusing on increasing member benefits and value.

Fostoria Economic Development Corporation chief Renee Smith provided energetic comments about how well things had gone last year, including how industry was expanding and hiring and sharing the fantastic statistic that 40% of all the available industrial properties were sold for a total of $11M+ worth of investment (want to do a future post on that.) She also talked about how her top three priorities for 2015 would be (1) Retention & Expansion; (2) Marketing; and (3) Attraction.

If you haven’t heard, Fostoria has a new tagline – “We’re right on track.” Well, with the great businesses there, a town full of great people, and the Fostoria Dream Team (see above picture), the future of Fostoria is bright indeed.