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Seneca County Commissioners create countywide facade enhancement program

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Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners allocated $25,000 to a countywide facade enhancement grant program Thursday morning as a way to reinvest tax funding back into the local community.

Commissioner Tyler Shuff proposed the program during a board session last month. Seneca County is partnering with Seneca Regional Planning Commission to administer the program in an effort to provide grant money to assist with the revitalization of exterior facades across Seneca County.

Fifty percent of all allocated funds will be designated for Tiffin and Fostoria with the remaining fifty percent allocated for the villages and rural areas of Seneca County. The program is on a first-come, first-serve basis and in future years, it will give priority to first-time applicants.

A committee, which includes representation from all across the county, is to be formed to review and rule on applications. The committee will decide if the proposed projects meet the stipulations of the program and if they are eligible for funds.

The program is to be similar to Tiffin’s downtown facade enhancement program but will cover areas of the county not currently covered by an existing program.

The city’s program, which was launched in 2014, provides a 50 percent match of funds for eligible exterior improvements on commercial structures in the downtown historic district. The county’s version is to provide a 50 percent match up to $5,000.

Shuff said this is the first façade program in Ohio that covers the entire county.

The Commissioners said the program is going to start small, but it could increase in size in future years.

“We want to give the taxpayers and our local businesses some of their tax money back to reinvest in themselves across our entire county,” Shuff said.

He said the city of Tiffin’s downtown facade program has had great success, providing $100,000 each year, but sparking more than $3.2 million in private investment since 2014.

“We believe that we can amplify this success and bring the momentum countywide,” he said. Shuff said he hopes the program can spark investment into properties not only in the cities but also in the villages and more rural areas of the county.

“We hope that if someone is on the fence about investing and beautifying their property, this program can serve as an appealing incentive to move forward with that investment,” he said. Board President Anthony Paradiso said he believes the investment back into the county should serve as a multiplier and that grant funding could be the difference between a project moving forward or not.

“We are excited to see this program move forward,” he said.

Shuff said applications for the program can be found on the county’s website at www.senecacountyohio.gov, or at the Commissioners’ Office, 111 Madison St.

He said applications are to be accepted beginning on Oct. 7th.

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