SIDNEY — Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership (SSEP)’s annual update on economic development efforts in Sidney was presented to Sidney City Council during its virtual meeting Monday evening.
Jim Hill, executive director of SSEP, presented the report about the organization’s work over the last year to City Council.
The five industrial expansions, Hill said, of Advanced Composites, Sunrise Cooperative, Cargill, Botkins Spec. Building No. 2 and Custom Foam will again qualify the Sidney area to be named a micropolitan by Site Selection Magazine for the fourth year. It is a total investment of $267 million, with 39 new jobs and 763 jobs retained, his report showed.
Investments in 2019 in the partnership were received from the city of Sidney, $66,000, 34%; Shelby County, $57,000, 29%; private donations, $65,100, 33%; villages and townships, 4%, exact dollar amount not given; and zero grants dollars was given.
Hill reminded council Sidney is the home of two industrial sites that are classified as Ohio Certified Sites. Both of the sites — 237 acres in the Sidney Industrial Park and 177 acres in the Amos Industrial Park — are utility-ready acreage ready for development by a company or industry.
Hill noted in business building/site leads over the last couple of years have been rather slow, with a total of 42 in 2019. He said about 16 leads, were viable leads they responded to, but no major projects resulted from the leads.
Last year Hill said SSEP conducted 37 retention and expansion visits. Hill said SSEP assisted County Commissioner Julie Ehemann’s with her Japan visit with the Dayton Development Coalition to meet with companies to work to bring business to Shelby County. The organization has been collaborating with Sidney Alive to execute a downtown and riverfront development strategy.
SSEP has been working with CIC Restructuring to find redevelopment plan for the abandoned Wagner Building in Sidney, he said. It has also been collaborating with Sidney Visitors Bureau on a new branding strategy, and on a workforce collaboration with Hometown Opportunities & Inspire high school senior event. COVID-19 has caused a delay on some of the ongoing work this year, Hill said.
Although not nearly as high as in 2018, Hill said last year was a good year for commercial construction. He called 2018 a “banner year” for construction.
Visioning priorities Hill identified in Shelby County include:
• Improving the overall availability of housing throughout the county.
• Enhancing the private/public partnerships to improve economic and business development in the county.
• Engaging in a marketing and branding effort to improve the overall perception of Shelby County.
• Attracting more amenities that align with the expectations of the younger workforce, “placemaking” that supports talent and businesses.
Housing strategies Hill identified in Shelby County include:
• Visioning Sessions, data gathering, meetings with developers has lead to a list of tools and strategies to encourage new housing.
• Targeted Neighborhood Revitalization strategies will be included in the CityVisions Downtown & Riverfront Strategy.
• Grassroots involvement and a neighborhood investment fund are key elements to a comprehensive revitalization strategy.
• COVID-19 and changes in demographics may be good news for suburban and rural areas.
• Current activity, including completion of a recent RFI for a residential development are encouraging signs, but significant work will need to be completed to boost housing in Sidney and Shelby County.
SSEP key (collaborative) priorities in Shelby County Hill shared include:
• Complete downtown and riverfront development strategy for Sidney — CityVisions.
• Create fund(s) to provide gap funding to allow more projects to move forward in the city and county.
• Execute new brand and marketing strategy for Sidney.
• Encourage more new housing and enact targeted neighborhood revitalization strategies.
• Complete evaluation of industrial land and building base, incentive programs and execute adjustments to promote more jobs and development.
• COVID-19 — Continue efforts to restart the economy and restore the economy. Monitor for business opportunities due to COVID.
• Working with Burgess & Niple to secure funds to clean up the Wagner Building site.
Hill noted the Sidney area on the hometownopportunity.com website that connects job seekers to local companies get about 51,000 hits per month. He said up to 4,700 hits per months come from the Sidney area. Shelby County joined the site in 2017.