Economic development requires defining your strengths and weaknesses, creating a strategy to balance them and making that strategy work. For communities and companies, success doesn't just happen. The ability to develop a plan and implement the plan is the difference.
- Gerald Mitchell, chairman and CEO, Dana Corp., 1987
During the early 1900s, Tiffin was one of the fastest-growing communities in the Midwest. The Wall Street Journal wrote about the dynamic growth of Tiffin and the entrepreneurial spirit of its business leaders. Some of today's most successful companies were developed during this period. As is the case with most things, we may not remember their names, but we enjoy the fruits of their labor. These early movers and shakers gave us a community that is still economically strong, maintains its family values and understands the importance of hard work.
Our job is to make sure the community we leave behind is better than the one we found. Communities are no less immune to the unpredictable changes of this life than are its businesses. Each needs people who care and work to ensure their success. The community we leave for future generations will be the one we strive to develop today.
The Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. continues to pursue a strategy for community growth on a number of fronts. Today, I would like to discuss what is happening in the downtown, because there has been a lot of recent interest and conversation. Last year, SIEDC raised the funds through a number of local resources to pay for the completion of the Strategic Downtown Planning Initiative. As a result of this plan, Tiffin Tomorrow has been formed and is tasked with making the plan a reality.
During the past 10 months, SIEDC has raised and spent more than $1 million in building improvements on two downtown projects: American Civil War Museum of Ohio and our new office located at 19 W. Market St.
SIEDC recently negotiated for the purchase of the former Rainbow Muffler building located at 17 N. Washington St., and has successfully secured the donation of the former Firestone property by its owner, Bridgestone, located at 19 N. Washington St. Both of these properties will be razed later this summer, and green space and a new, attractive gateway to the downtown created.
Recently, the Seneca County commissioners announced the need to reduce overhead costs, and alternatives need to be found for supporting the cost of operating the Seneca County Museum. Rather than view this as a disaster, SIEDC believes there is a real opportunity to not only continue the operation, but also to enhance the museum's importance with the other offerings that now are available for visitors and citizens alike.
A plan can and will be developed that keeps the museum open.
In the past, SIEDC was involved in the renovation of the former Shawhan Hotel in downtown Tiffin into what eventually became today's Elmwood at the Shawhan. This building sat idle for more than 20 years after a fire nearly destroyed it. SIEDC, along with the city of Tiffin, the Seneca County commissioners and private partners, was able to secure a $6.2 million renovation that turned this building into a wonderful example of a successful public/private partnership and remains a shining example of the impact of the entrepreneurial spirit.
What all of this means is SIEDC is committed to our mission of bringing together individuals and organizations, public and private, who are interested in expanding economic development in Tiffin and Seneca County. We are committed to downtown Tiffin just as we are to every part of our county.