SIDNEY — The city of Sidney has had several new leaders take the reigns over the last year, including a new city manager. Andrew Bowsher joined the city in November 2021 to become Sidney’s 14th city manager; he recently sat down with the Sidney Daily News to share a little about himself and Sidney city goals he hopes to achieve.
Bowsher, a native of Grove City, Ohio, took over for Mark Cundiff, the city’s previous city manager, upon his Nov. 5, 2021, retirement. Bowsher graduated with a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University where he studied city planning. Immediately prior to coming to Sidney, he served as the director of development for the city of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. There, Bowsher was responsible for leading economic development, housing, planning and zoning projects. He also served five years of active duty in the U.S Army, and the U.S. Army Reserves for three years stationed in Texas.
“I always wanted to continue having that service-minded career. I think every since I was a kid, I felt like that’s what I wanted to do, is something bigger than myself, and that’s what I think led me to go into the military. And it was a natural progression to go into public administration,” Bowsher said of his career trajectory.
Post military, he worked as a civilian employee for the U.S. Air Force as its base planning manager for the build up of an expansion for space launch complexes for SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, and for Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Besos, at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
“It was really exciting to be able to be in the ground work of all of that,” Bowsher said when talking about his passion for his previous work out west. “All of the love goes to Cape Canaveral down south in Florida, but everyone kind of forgets there is a whole other space base out west where shuttles are launched, and it’s actually where all the spy satellites get launched.”
Bowsher returned from California to the Columbus area in 2016. Aside from at Reynoldsburg, he also worked in several other consulting or planning positions, such as for The Ohio State University, the city of Fostoria, Ohio, and the YMCA of Central Ohio.
After being chosen as the one of 30 applicants vying for the Sidney city manager position, Bowsher said it was a humbling experience and that he feels very blessed. He has two children, Lilly, 12, and Austin, 10, and is engaged with plans to marry his fiance’ Taylor on the Shelby County Courthouse square in October. The couple is currently closing on a building in downtown Sidney, which they intend to completely renovate.
“It has been really great to meet so many local investors and business men and women in the community, to just reach across and discuss various topics,” Bowsher said. “Everyone has unique challenges, and one of the biggest ones is workforce.”
Among his list of goals for the city, other than working on the workforce shortage, driving up the housing stock is the biggest one, he noted, especially given the fact that about 7,000 people commute to Sidney everyday for work.
“It’s great that we have that (many coming to work in Sidney), but to me, it would be even better if more of those individuals laid their heads to rest in Sidney and worked here as well,” Bowsher said.
Other goals include: continuing to provide a wide range of expert level city services across the city, for utilities, fire, police, etc.; bringing city administration into the 21st century with efficient online services; continuing downtown development; and to put out information more effectively to the public in real time by hiring a communications manager within the next year.
“We need to meet businesses at a business level; government, it already slow. In order to be business-friendly, we must meet business timelines, and cut through the red tape and bring everything online,” Bowsher said. “… And also, I’m calling all builders to come and talk to me and let’s work out deals to get more housing in Sidney. Let’s fill our streets; let’s bring back our housing of old and build new.”
He admitted city decisions will not always make everyone happy all the time, but the hope and “goal is to make the best choices for the greater vision of the community moving forward.”
“I never want to take the city, or the community or my job for granted. It’s something that I come in every single day excited to do,” Bowsher said. “I consider myself extremely blessed to have found a new home in Sidney, and the ability to wake up every day and try to make the community better for everyone who lives in it.”