SIDNEY — Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership (SSEP)’s annual update on economic development efforts in Sidney was presented to Sidney City Council at its Monday evening meeting.
Jim Hill, executive director of SSEP, presented the report about the organization’s work over the last year as well as upcoming projects to City Council. At the top of his presentation, Hill honored Harry Faulkner and Tom Given, who were both active members of the SSEP board or the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), and had both passed away since his last update presentation to City Council.
Investments received in 2020 in the partnership were given from the city of Sidney, $66,000, 29%; Shelby County, $80,000, 36%; private donations, $72,000, 32%; villages and townships, $7,000, 3%. Hill thanked city leaders for their continued financial support, saying he realizes the last year has been tough.
Hill noted, although they faced the coronavirus pandemic, “there was a lot of good activity” in 2020. He went on to highlight five industrial expansions, including Advanced Composites, Cargill, Plastipack Packaging, Hexa and Industrial Recyclers. These expansions is a total investment of $25 million, with 118 new jobs and 1,777 jobs retained, his report showed.
Hill pointed out there are 250 shovel-ready acres in Industrial Park for business development. Ohio Industrial Park has been certified through the State of Ohio Site Ohio Authenticated program. He said 2020 was not a great year for sites leads, but building and site lead activity for 2021 has been strong. Three prospect site visits have taken place so far in 2021.
Local construction and unemployment rate data, were highlighted next in Hill’s report. He told council members, in 2020 although unemployment rates rose in Shelby County from under 4% up to about 12.1% due to COVID-19, the year ended back below 4%.
“Recovery was remarkable. Shelby County industry is resilient and moving along strong, and we are starting to see even some of those areas that hadn’t recovered starting to move back into that direction — some of the visitor’s attractions, such as restaurants and what not,” Hill said.
Sidney moved up from the 15th to the 11th spot in the 2020 Site Selection Magazine Top US Micropolitan rankings, of which the city has been selected since 2016, Hill said. Also, the Sidney micropolitan area ranked 24th in the United States in the POLICOM economic strength rating, which looks at long-haul economic stability in the community, he shared. Only one other Ohio community came in higher in the POLICOM rating than Sidney.
His report also pointed out the following topics:
• The downtown and riverfront development strategy was completed within the last year, as well as a new brand and marketing strategy for the Sidney Visitors Bureau.
• There was $140,684 of COVID-19 funding distributed to help small businesses.
• The state capital budget awarded $850,000 for the extension of the Canal Feeder Trail.
• The business community launched an educational outreach and advocacy effort to help pass the school levy. Hill thanked the business community for helping to get the Sidney City Schools levy passed.
• Economic development activities, marketing, workforce development and housing efforts of 2020.
Hill noted the Sidney area on the hometownopportunity.com website that connects job seekers to local companies get about 52,000 hits per month. He said up to 4,840 hits per months come from the Sidney area. Shelby County joined the site in 2017.