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Ohio Economic Development Association recognizes Tiffin, Seneca CARES programs

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Nick Dutro, TSEP Economic Development Manager, accepts the OEDA 2021 Excellence in Innovation Award for the Tiffin CARES Small Business Relief Program and Seneca County CARES Small Business Relief Program. (Photo Submitted)

Tiffin, Ohio — The Ohio Economic Development Association (OEDA) presented its Annual Excellence Awards at its 2021 Annual Summit, held at The Exchange at Bridge Park October 26-27 in Dublin, Ohio. During the meeting, Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership was the recipient of the Excellence in Innovation Award on behalf of the City of Tiffin and Seneca County for the Tiffin CARES Small Business Relief Program and Seneca County CARES Small Business Relief Program.

The Ohio Economic Development Association’s Annual Excellence Awards program recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations throughout Ohio in the areas of economic and workforce development.

“The Annual Excellence Awards showcase the best of the best in economic development and gives members of the profession the opportunity to come together and collectively celebrate the success of the economic development profession,” Jennifer Price, OEDA Executive Director, said.

The Excellence in Innovation award recognizes unique approaches to any aspect of economic development and recognizes a person or organization that has developed innovative practices and programs. The 2021 Excellence in Innovation award further focused on new ideas, partnerships, strategies, and tactics that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic the past 18 months.

In September 2020, The City of Tiffin announced and opened applications for the Tiffin CARES Small Business Relief Program, and Seneca County started its program, Seneca County CARES Small Business Relief Program, in late October. The programs made up to $10,000 in grant funding available to for- profit businesses and non-profit organizations in Tiffin and rural Seneca County and had the goal of providing financial relief from loss of revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Altogether, The City of Tiffin; Seneca County; the villages of Bettsville and Green Springs; and Bloom, Clinton, Eden, Hopewell and Pleasant and townships contributed $1.2 million in CARES Act funding to 186 businesses by the end of 2020. Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership administered the programs on behalf of the City of Tiffin and Seneca County Board of Commissioners. The Fostoria Economic Development Corporation also had an additional program for Fostoria businesses funded by Seneca County.

  • View video about the award here.

TSEP President and CEO David Zak was excited by the news of the recognition: “It was amazing to see the collaboration among the many local jurisdictions and their commitment to help small businesses in their hour of greatest need. TSEP was honored to develop and implement the grant program modeling the best practices of many other programs around the state. Altogether, we were able to aid almost 200 small businesses that provide jobs for 700 people in Seneca County. Thank you to OEDA for this recognition of the program, and I thank the City of Tiffin, Seneca County, and the other units of local government for their trust in us to make this program a reality.”

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz said, “When I saw that the City of Tiffin was going to be receiving funds through the CARES Act, I knew that we needed to take some of that funding and help those small businesses that give so much to our community. I’m excited to see OEDA recognize our part in supporting the small business owners of the City of Tiffin.”

Seneca County Commissioner Mike Kerschner commented, “I’m proud that the Seneca County Commissioners were able to make money available to our small businesses and non-profits throughout the county. Thank you to OEDA for this award recognizing that support.”

Annual Excellence Award Recognition was presented to the following winners. (View videos to highlight the award winning project entries linked below):

This award recognizes outstanding and innovative projects (retention, attraction, redevelopment (brownfield or historic), greenfield infrastructure, Main Street) in economic and business development that retain or generate jobs and capital investment. This can be anything from a retention project to new facility construction, redevelopment (brownfield or otherwise) or an historic project. The award determination is not dependent on the number of jobs created or retained, size of site, or the amount of total investment. Rather, this award will showcase a unique approach to the project, which can include a public-private partnership, local collaboration, innovative financing and/or incentives, overcoming historic barriers or obstacles, or been a catalyst for economic development in the community. 

This award recognizes successful economic development marketing projects or marketing campaigns. Examples include target market studies, branding, websites, direct mail, consultant events, public relations campaigns, social media campaigns and advertising.

This award recognizes unique approaches to any aspect of workforce development and recognizes a person or organization that has developed innovative practices and programs. The strategy(ies) should provide direction, guidance, and motivation to Ohio’s workforce and business community and demonstrate an impact in meeting the workforce needs or overcoming the challenges in a specific community/region, industry, population or the state as a whole.

The Economic Development Professional of the Year award is to recognize an individual who has been an economic development professional in Ohio for at least the past year. The purpose of the award is to identify someone who has assisted in making a significant impact in their organization/community through their efforts as an economic developer. The Economic Development Professional of the Year award encourages, recognizes, and celebrates one the individual who has met the challenges of providing economic development and, who demonstrates the ability and commitment to positively impact their community’s and/or the state’s economic growth, and contributed to the advancement of the economic development profession in Ohio. 

This award recognizes an individual who has been an economic development professional in Ohio for less than two years. The purpose of the award is to identify someone who has “hit the ground running” and made extraordinary contributions to local or state workforce and economic development in his/her career. The Rookie of the Year award encourages, recognizes, and celebrates one who has met the challenges of providing economic development early in their career and who demonstrates the ability and commitment to positively impact the state’s economic growth.

Additionally, OEDA recognized TSEP Economic Development Manager Nick Dutro as one of 16 professionals from around the state for achieving the Ohio “Best in Class” Economic Developer credential (OhioCED) in 2021.


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