Author: davidzak1

Top 10 Reasons to Live, Work, Study in Tiffin-Seneca

Are you considering coming to Tiffin and Seneca County to work, live, or study? If so, we hope this quick overview shares ten of the great reasons we love our community and why it’s such a great place to thrive. You’ll discover why Tiffin’s population grew last year and residential development is on the rise. Let’s kick things off with our year in review video to introduce you to our home and then move to the reasons.

Reason 1 – A Life Connected

What makes the Tiffin-Seneca community unique is the connection we all feel to our friends and family, and to this place we call home. This connection ensures our businesses are supported, our growth as a community continues, and that newcomers and long-time residents alike are able to find a life fulfilled here. Read more.

Reason 2 – A Booming Economy

Over the last ten years, Tiffin-Seneca has consistently ranked in the top ten percent of the almost 600 micropolitans nationally for large economic development projects. This year, we were #14 in the country. In 2018, we were ranked #10. In 2017, we also ranked #10. Our economy is also not dependent on one type of business – manufacturing, education, healthcare, and agribusiness are all leaders, and we are ranked as one of the top midwestern cities for entrepreneurship.

Reason 3 – A Thriving Downtown

We believe that the downtown is the heartbeat of the community, and we are proud that Downtown Tiffin has an award-winning and state and nationally accredited Main Street program. Please check out our Downtown Tiffin page and the large downtown section in last year’s annual report (2018) to learn more.

Reason 4 – Quality Education

Known as the “Education Community” for decades, we are one of the few communities of our size (18,000 in Tiffin, 56,000 in Seneca County) with two private universities (Heidelberg University, Tiffin University), a regional Educational Service Center, high-quality public and private K12 districts, award-winning career and technical education (Vanguard-Sentinel), an innovative community college (Terra State), and new training center (Fostoria Learning Center.) Also check out the Education section of previous annual reports (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014).

Reason 5 – Abundant Arts

The arts and recreational opportunities in Tiffin-Seneca are numerous. From the restored historic Ritz Theatre to university activities at Heidelberg and TU, from our 14 galleries and museums to our art guild, there is a lot to experience. Add to that the constant happenings at the new outdoor Frost-Kalnow Amphitheatre at the East Green.

Reason 6 – Robust Recreation

With 900 acres of protected nature and 30 parks, Tiffin and Seneca County offers great opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors in Tiffin, Fostoria, Seneca County, and at our two state nature preserves. The Sandusky River is one of the state’s designated scenic rivers, and Lake Erie is within easy reach. We have roadways great for biking and trails within easy reach, and we’ve also recently completed an Active Transportation Plan. The Tiffin Community Y (3rd largest in Ohio), Geary Family YMCA in Fostoria, university facilities, and a number of local gyms and studios are great assets.

Reason 7 – Low Cost

Tiffin has been ranked one of the 20 most affordable college towns in Ohio, and Fostoria has been ranked one of the 10 most affordable cities in the state. Research also shows the Tiffin-Seneca community as having a cost of living 15-20% below the national average.

Reason 8 – Easy Access

Seneca County is within a 90-minute drive of larger metropolitan areas like Columbus, Cleveland, and Detroit, and an hour away from Toledo, which provides great access to airports, professional sports (Blue Jackets, Browns, Indians, Pistons, Redwings, Lions, Tigers) and shows (Playhouse Square is largest performing arts area outside NY), attractions (top-rated Toledo and Columbus Zoo, top-rated amusement park Cedar Point and waterparks), and much, much more.

Reason 9 – Dining & Drinks

For a community our size, there are a number of unique places to eat, drink, and shop. Newer eateries include one the Empire at 138 (top-rated on Open Table), the IronWood Steakhouse, and KiKu Japanese Fusion, while the Laird Arcade Brewery (local microbrewery) and Renaissance (top five distilled selection in Ohio) offer quality brew, bourbon, and cocktails. Check out the Chamber’s listing of restaurants and cafés.

Reason 10 – Global Mindset

Many people are surprised by the international flavor of the Tiffin-Seneca community, and we believe it makes our community a much more interesting place to live. More than 300 students from Heidelberg and TU representing more than 30 countries become part of the Tiffin-Seneca Tribe annually. Our International Cultural Center in the schools and TU’s new PhD program in Global Leadership and Change promote internationalism in education and research, and our many international companies with global operations mean we stay connected around the globe.

A Life Connected

In 2018, Tiffin and Seneca County finished a 18-month community branding initiative. What we found after interviewing more than 500 community members and comprehensive research done outside the community is that what makes unique is the connection we all feel to our friends and family, and to this place we call home. This connection ensures our businesses are supported, our growth as a community continues, and that newcomers and long-time residents alike are able to find a life fulfilled here.

The initiative resulted in something that has never been done to our knowledge in the US – a connected brand family connecting more than seven separate groups – the county (Seneca County), city (City of Tiffin), chamber and tourism (Seneca Regional Chamber and Visitors Services), economic development and downtown revitalization (Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership), and planning (Seneca Regional Planning). Here is the video launching the brand, which also talks about our spirit:

Below is our brand narrative, which describes in more detail who we are:

The new brand also resulted in our branding our own organization from the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. into the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership. Read more.

Hopewell Township Community Reinvestment Area #3

Hopewell Township’s Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) #3, may have a misleading name, as there is only one CRA in Hopewell Township. This CRA was established prior to the 1994 change in state law; such a CRA is often referred to as a “pre-1994” CRA. Please refer to the
main article on CRAs for general information. This article provides information on the benefits and process for obtaining a CRA tax exemption in Hopewell Township’s CRA #3. (Find a map of the CRA here.)

Benefits – Fixed

In a pre-1994 CRA, the benefit levels are fixed and not subject to negotiation or approval by any legislative body. They are as follows:

  • Renovation of residential property (two units or less) – 10 years, 100 percent
  • Renovation of residential (more than two units), commercial or industrial property – 12 years, 100 percent
  • New construction of residential, commercial, or industrial property – 15 years, 100 percent

Process

  • Step 1 – Contact Nick Dutro at TSEP, dutro@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.767.0328 Nick can verify the project is in the CRA and help determine if there are any other resources that can help the project.
  • Step 2 – Draft and send a quick “letter of intent.” Once Step 1 has been completed, an email and/or letter should be sent to Seneca County Auditor Julie Adkins at jadkins@seneca-county.com. It needs to identify the parcels involved, amount of investment, business doing the investment, and timing.
  • Step 3 – Complete the project.
  • Step 4 – Fill out and submit application to
    Seneca County Auditor Julie Adkins at jadkins@seneca-county.com. She will then review the application for eligibility and completeness, and then verify the project has been completed. If the project is eligible and the application is complete, she will issue a letter notifying the applicant that the project (property improvements) will be exempted.

Program Contact

For additional information or questions, please contact Nick Dutro, Downtown Main Street Manager at TSEP, dutro@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.767.0328

Tiffin Community Reinvestment Area #5

Diverse Development received a 50 percent, five-year CRA tax exemption.

Tiffin Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) #5 is located in the West Market Street area in Tiffin. It is a CRA established after the major overhaul of state law in 1994. Such a CRA is often referred to as a “post-1994” CRA. Please refer to the main article on CRAs for general information. This article provides information on the benefits and process for obtaining a CRA tax exemption in Tiffin CRA #5. You can find the legislation and map here – legislation, map.

Benefits are Negotiated

In a post-1994 CRA, the benefit levels are negotiated and subject to approval by the Tiffin City Council. The maximums allowable by the city statute are as follows:

  • Renovation of residential property (two units or less) – maximum of 10 years, 100 percent
  • Renovation of residential (more than two units), commercial or industrial property – maximum of 12 years, 100 percent
  • New construction of residential, commercial, or industrial property – maximum of 15 years, 100 percent

There are currently three Tiffin CRA #5 agreements and all three were for new construction (two commercial, one residential). They were 50 percent agreements for five years and each had compelling circumstances (e.g., an existing structure with asbestos had to be remediated, demolished, and removed prior to new construction.)

Process

  • Step 1 – Prior to starting the project, contact Nick Dutro at TSEP, dutro@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.767.0328 Nick will discuss and assess the overall project, gather information, and prepare a Project Summary for the company’s review.
  • Step 2 – Based on the approved Project Summary, he work to prepare an offer (of incentives and assistance) letter. If the project is eligible for CRA and deemed appropriate, Nick will then work with the local negotiation team to confidentially discuss the project and determine the percentage and term. He will also determine any needed additional steps before an offer (of incentives) letter can be prepared.
  • Step 3 – The offer letter is prepared and submitted to the company.
  • Step 4 – If the company accepts, an action plan is developed and submitted to the company to (1) obtain official approval for the exemption as well as (2) communicate publicly (official approval meetings are public meetings, and local media is always present).
  • Step 5 – Once the company approves, the action plan is set into motion. Once the prospective project is made public, the County Auditor and City Engineer will be notified.
  • Step 6 – Any additional paperwork needed to finalize the exemption will be completed (e.g., execution of legal agreement with the City of Tiffin).

Program Contact

For additional information or questions, please contact Nick Dutro, Downtown Main Street Manager at TSEP, dutro@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.767.0328

Tiffin Community Reinvestment Areas #2-4

The new (2018) spec building in the Eagle Rock Business Park is receiving a 15-year, 100-percent CRA tax exemption.

Tiffin Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs) #2, #3, and #4 are generally located in industrial areas in Tiffin. They are CRAs established prior to the major 1994 change in state law; such CRAs is often referred to as a “pre-1994” CRAs. Please refer to the main article on CRAs for general information. This article provides information on the benefits and process for obtaining a CRA tax exemption in Tiffin CRAs #2, #3, and #4.

Locations

  • Tiffin CRA #2 is located at Eagle Rock Business Park (legislationmap)
  • Tiffin CRA #3 is located in northeast Tiffin (legislationmap)
  • Tiffin CRA #4 is located in the area of Northstar Industrial Park (legislationmap)

Benefits – Fixed

In a pre-1994 CRA, the benefit levels are fixed and not subject to negotiation or approval by any legislative body. They are as follows:

  • Renovation of residential property (two units or less) – 10 years, 100 percent
  • Renovation of residential (more than two units), commercial or industrial property – 12 years, 100 percent
  • New construction of residential, commercial, or industrial property – 15 years, 100 percent

Process

  • Step 1 – Contact Nick Dutro at TSEP, dutro@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.767.0328 Nick can verify the project is in the CRA and help determine if there are any other resources that can help the project.
  • Step 2 – Draft and send a quick “letter of intent.” Once Step 1 has been completed, an email and/or letter should be sent to Seneca County Auditor Julie Adkins at jadkins@seneca-county.com. It needs to identify the parcels involved, amount of investment, business doing the investment, and timing.
  • Step 3 – Complete the project.
  • Step 4 – Fill out and submit application to City Engineer (and Housing Officer) Matt Watson at mwatson@tiffinohio.gov. He will review the application and verify the project has been completed to the County Auditor.
  • Step 5 – County Auditor will review the application for eligibility and completeness, and if the project is eligible and the application is complete, she will issue a letter notifying the applicant that the project (property improvements) will be exempted.

Program Contact

For additional information or questions, please contact Nick Dutro, Downtown Main Street Manager at TSEP, dutro@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.767.0328

Tiffin Community Reinvestment Area #1

Tiffin Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) #1 is located in downtown Tiffin. It is a CRA established prior to the 1994 change in state law; such a CRA is often referred to as a “pre-1994” CRA. Please refer to the main article on CRAs for general information. This article provides information on the benefits and process for obtaining a CRA tax exemption in Tiffin CRA #1. You can find the most recent legislation and map here – legislationmap.

Benefits – Fixed

In a pre-1994 CRA, the benefit levels are fixed and not subject to negotiation or approval by any legislative body. They are as follows:

  • Renovation of residential property (two units or less) – 10 years, 100 percent
  • Renovation of residential (more than two units), commercial or industrial property – 12 years, 100 percent
  • New construction of residential, commercial, or industrial property – 15 years, 100 percent

Process

  • Step 1 – Contact Amy Reinhart at TSEP, reinhart@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.619.5517.
    • Amy can verify the project is in the CRA and help determine if there are any other resources that can help the project.
    • Amy can also determine if the project needs to go through the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) approval process.
  • Step 2 – Draft and send a quick “letter of intent.” Once Step 1 has been completed, an email and/or letter should be sent to Seneca County Auditor Julie Adkins at jadkins@seneca-county.com. It needs to identify the parcels involved, amount of investment, business doing the investment, and timing.
  • Step 3 – Complete the project.
  • Step 4 – Fill out and submit application to City Engineer (and Housing Officer) Matt Watson at mwatson@tiffinohio.gov. He will review the application and verify the project has been completed to the County Auditor.
  • Step 5 – County Auditor will review the application for eligibility and completeness, and if the project is eligible and the application is complete, she will issue a letter notifying the applicant that the project (property improvements) will be exempted.

Program Contact

For additional information or questions, please contact Amy Reinhart, Downtown Main Street Manager at TSEP, reinhart@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.619.5517.

Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs)

Tiffin Pointe received a 50 percent, ten-year Community Reinvestment Area tax exemption (Tiffin CRA #5)

Note – this article replaces and expands our earlier 2014 article.

What it is – A Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) is an area of land in which local government has the authority to grant tax exemption on real property improvements. Land or existing real property does not qualify for an exemption. That is to say that if someone is considering renovating an existing building or doing new construction, they could be eligible to receive a tax break on the increased taxes for the “real property improvement.” More detailed information can be found here:

How taxes on real property work – Real estate taxes in Ohio are local. In Tiffin, for example, the true (also known as “effective”) real property tax rates for commercial and industrial property are 66.143 mills (or 6.6% or $6.61 per $100.) Only 35% of the appraised value of the property is subject to the tax, which means effectively that there is a 2.32% tax on the value of any property (land, building.) This means that if the County Auditor (the entity who determines the value of property for purposes of taxation) were to assess the value of a new building at $1,000,000, the owner who had it built would have to pay $23,000 a year in new property taxes. Over ten years, that could cost upwards of $230,000 or almost a quarter of a million dollars. (See all Seneca County property tax rates.)

How does it work and what will my benefit be? – The amount of the benefit depends on the particular CRA. First, identify the zone you are considering and then go to that page for more information:

You can also refer to the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Seneca County CRA page on the areas and existing agreements for Seneca County.

For additional questions, contact:

  • Tiffin CRA #1 – Amy Reinhart, Downtown Main Street Manager at TSEP, reinhart@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.619.5517.
  • Tiffin CRAs #2-5, Hopewell Township #3 – Nick Dutro, Development Manager at TSEP, dutro@tiffinseneca.org or by cell at 419.767.0328
  • Fostoria CRA #2 – Renee Smith, President at the Fostoria Economic Development Corporation (FEDC), at 419.435.7789.

SIEDC Seeks Input on New Name

SIEDC Econ Dev LOGO CMYK - TransparentFollowing our two-year branding process, the Board of Trustees of the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC), discussed and decided that it is time to update its name. A lengthy process ensued and the choices have been narrowed down to two. We are hoping our members and any interested member of the general public would provide their input (vote) on which of the two they like best. 

The choices are:

  • Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership
  • Tiffin-Seneca Development Partnership

You can vote here – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SIEDCNameVote.

We look to close the survey around August 21, and we expect to announce the new name next month.

The two most popular choices among the Board have two things in common. One, they incorporate Tiffin into the name, while maintaining our identity as a county economic development organization. The Board felt that as the majority of the County economic development outside of Fostoria (which is primarily managed by the Fostoria Economic Development Corporation) occurs in Tiffin, as we do community development and downtown development for Tiffin, and as they are our largest funder by far, that should be recognized in our name. In addition, the center city-county name combination is common today. Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development is one example. It is also clearer to outside customers that we represent Tiffin for economic development.

Two, they both move from the word Corporation to Partnership. It was thought that this more adequately represented how we do things (in collaboration and partnership) in Tiffin and Seneca County, embraces and expresses better our new brand and competitive advantage (A Life Connected, which is all about the connections and partnership we have here). It also articulates that SIEDC itself is a public-private partnership, with significant funding, support, and board representation from both the public and private sectors.

The two choices, of course, are close, but they have a slightly different feel and emphasis. One (Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership) emphasizes more our purpose – why we exist – which is to positively impact the economy. Everything we do–whether it is economic, community, and/or downtown development–seeks to stimulate and grow the economy. The other (Tiffin-Seneca Development Partnership) emphasizes more our mission – how we do that – by facilitating development projects, investment, and the creation and retention of jobs. Both are valid and broad reflecting our wide scope of activity.

Community seeks new branding

product-packaging-design-branding

Image source: Hooka on Branding

Download full RFP here.

On November 9, 2016, the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a community branding strategy and creative. Working with the City of Tiffin, Seneca County Commissioners, and Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Services, SIEDC and its partners describe what they are looking for in this way (from the RFP):

“With the contract resulting from this RFP, SIEDC–together with the City of Tiffin, Seneca County, the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services, and potentially other stakeholders–intends to develop a new community brand and sub-brand strategy and related creative elements. We seek a firm that has demonstrated success and creativity in developing brand identities for other communities, preferably with experience with meeting the needs of multiple and diverse stakeholders. Creating and helping the community and key stakeholder organizations to execute (a) strong destination brand(s) strategy to meet the different needs of participants and facilitating a process that results in informed, engaged, and supportive stakeholders as well as a consistent and comprehensive verbal and visual identity are essential.”

Timeline:

  • Distribution of RFP – November 9, 2015
  • Deadline for receipt of responses – December 7, 2016 (5:00 pm EST)
  • Interviews – December 2016, January 2017
  • Final Selection and Project Commencement – Not later than Feb. 1, 2017

For additional information not provided in the RFP, please contact David Zak, SIEDC President & CEO, at 419.912.1150 (cell) or by email at zak@senecacounty.org.

 

 

Vanguard-Sentinel consortium awarded $900K grant

VSIt was great to receive this press release from State Rep. Bill Reineke. This is great news for a great school.

COLUMBUS—State Representative Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) announced today that the Ohio Department of Education recommended a grant award of $882,929 to a consortia of local schools and businesses in Seneca and Sandusky Counties to create an advanced manufacturing training program. The Straight A Fund Governing Board selected the application of Vanguard Sentinel Career and Technology Center, in conjunction with the Fostoria Learning Center, META Solutions, Motion Controls, and National Machinery, to adopt the Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative (RAMTEC) to train the students for industry-specific credentials.

“Our communities are taking a huge step forward today by receiving state funding for the new RAMTEC program,” Rep. Reineke said. “RAMTEC is a highly innovative program based on strong collaboration between our career tech schools and local businesses, allowing students to walk right out of the classroom and into the workplace with in-demand industry credentials. I am thrilled to see our local partnerships recognized by the state so we can advance our mission of giving our students the skills they need to succeed in the workforce. This truly will prepare individuals for more than just jobs, but careers that will give them meaning and purpose.”

The grant is part of the Ohio Department of Education’s Straight A Fund, which provides money for innovative ideas to help improve student achievement, increase efficiency and tear down educational barriers. The program received 141 applications and awarded 23 recipients with a total of $14.8 million. Each grant application underwent review by independent scorers for both fiscal sustainability and to determine if proposals are innovative and have substantial value and lasting impact before being recommended by the governing board.

The RAMTEC Program has already been implemented in a number of career technical schools in Ohio. It was created with the vision to address the skills gap by preparing high school and adult students with advanced manufacturing and engineering skills.

Final approval for the funding will go before the General Assembly’s Controlling Board on August 8, 2016.