SIDNEY — Mike Dodds, the face known to represent the Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership (SSEP) as executive director for the last 11 years, put in his final day, Friday, May 11.
Dodds is officially retiring — for the second time — after spending part of his career working for the village of Jackson Center, the city of Sidney and Shelby County.
The Sidney-Shelby County Economic Partnership is a nonprofit organization comprising private businesses and public leaders from across Shelby County who are dedicated to maintaining the county’s economic growth and stability.
“Having worked in municipal government for so many years and then this job (at SSEP), the transition will take a little bit of time,” Dodds said. “But I’m going to miss those opportunities when you can celebrate an achievement — not that it was mine only; it was the community’s achievement — but I’m going to miss that.”
In recognition of his work, on Thursday evening, May 10, he was honored with proclamations by Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, 85th District, Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst, Jackson Center Village Administrator Bruce Metz and Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemenn in front of about 140 people at a reception at the Shelby Oaks Golf Club.
SSEP Board Chairman Mick Given, Board Trustee Emeritus Harry Faulkner and Dodds’s successor, Jim Hill, also spoke, as well as Dodds, himself, who thanked everyone for attending and the opportunity.
“Mike’s accomplishments as executive director with the SSEP are many. Of significant note was the role he played in establishing the Workforce Partnership of Shelby County, the certification of two major shovel-ready sites in Sidney and the modernization of the organization’s website that integrated a number of Internet-based tools, making the site more functionally effective for corporate site selection professionals,” Jeff Raible, president of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, told the Sidney Daily News.
“Mike is credited for rebranding the organization in 2014, and his involvement in establishing the West Central Ohio Development Coalition, a regional collaboration of economic development professionals in west central Ohio. Mike has left an incredible legacy of success in the wake of his tenure with the Sidney Shelby Economic Partnership. His leadership these past 11 years is notable and will forever have a lasting impact on the organization,” Raible said.
When asked which projects stood out most, Dodds said the most recent, exciting projects include the major expansion of Airstream in Jackson Center, Emerson’s expansion and renovation of it’s Sidney facility, and the DP&L-certified site program, that has certified more than 400 acres of “shovel-ready ground in Shelby County.”
He also noted that he is very proud to have helped organize the Workforce Partnership program. The Workforce Partnership brings local schools and workforce training programs together to prepare students and employees for current and future local jobs.
“I was surprised when Congressman Jordan came and gave me a letter of appreciation on my retirement. That meant a lot to me because I’ve known Jim since he started out in Ohio politics, and I very highly respect Jim. And so that was quite and honor to make that special effort. Probably one of the highlights of my career here,” Dodds said.
At the beginning of his career, Dodds began working for the village of Jackson Center during his summer breaks while attending Bluffton University. Then after graduating from college with a Bachelor of Arts in business and a minor in education, Dodds taught business courses for one year, during the 1973-74 school year, at Sidney High School. He realized during that time teaching was not for him.
After that school year, he returned to work for the village of Jackson Center for six years before coming to Sidney to work in the utility department from 1980 to 1990. He eventually became a utility supervisor. However, once the Jackson Center village administrator position became available in 1990, he applied and was hired for the job.
“Sidney was a great place to work. I had a great job. But it was focused in one area. The village administrator job was a broad scope of responsibility: streets, water, sewer and electric, which was one of the utilities the village owned up there. So you became involved in all areas of municipal government, which was a great training for me,” Dodds said.
He held the Jackson Center village administrator position for 16 years before retiring (the first time) in 2006. Then when Lew Blackford also retired in 2006 from SSEP, which was formerly known as the West Ohio Development Council, Dodds took his part-time job. However, over time, the SSEP executive director position evolved into full-time work.
“It sounded good — retiring and taking a part-time job, and doing kinda the same things I was doing as a village administrator. And it has been a great job for 11 years. But I just felt like the organization was ready for more time commitment to fulfill the obligations here,” Dodds said.
He said with a smile, although that, “I’m sure my wife has plenty for me to do.” He expects to continue in something business-oriented.
“I would like to stay active on a part-time basis. I’m not sure what that activity will include, but I would like for it to be a business-orientated type activity,” he said of doing something after about a month off.
He and his wife, Carlotte, live in Sidney, where they moved after 30 years in Jackson Center to be closer to their three children and eight living grandchildren, ages 3 to 18 (one grandson passed away).
“I will definitely be staying in the community. No plans to move. We like Shelby County. If there was an opportunity to help in any way to continue to promote Shelby County on an informal basis, we would be happy to do that,” he said.
“We are pretty devoted to our grandkids. We’ve got soccer, baseball, football, volleyball,” he said when asked what his plans were. “We enjoy being with our family, being with grand-kids. I’m sure that will be a big part of my retirement, and I look forward to that. I know (SSEP) is in good hands. And I just know God put me on this path, and I’m ready (to retire). Doors open and doors close. And when you have that sense of peace, it’s very easy to make that transition.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.