2023 Year in Review

Fostoria Economic Development Corporation and the Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau held their joint Annual Meeting Thursday, March 21 in Legacy Hall at Fostoria Junior Senior High School.

The meeting for each organization’s respective members recapped the positive economic development in Fostoria from the past year, provided previews of exciting projects shaping up in 2024, and presented the Donald P. Miller Award.

Sarah Stephens Krupp, Project Administrator for Fostoria Economic Development Corporation (FEDC), spoke following the brief business meeting. Stephens Krupp highlighted both organizations’ continuous growth and the need to transition FEDC and Chamber’s staff roles and responsibilities to meet and continue to build organizational capacity. These staffing transitions, including her move from the Chamber/Small Business Director to Project Administrator for FEDC in August, allowed for the hiring of a grant writer and a new Director for the Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. Stephens Krupp cited facing challenges as opportunities, the dedication of individuals who have put in years of hard work, building a strong team, and the effectiveness of working a plan together as the catalyst for growth.

Jocelyn Reinhart Scaife, Director of the Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, discussed her transition into the position in August.

“Transitioning from a family business to the role of Chamber Director has been a profound and enriching experience for me. While my roots in the family business provided me with invaluable insights into entrepreneurship, customer relations, and community engagement, stepping into this new role has allowed me to broaden my horizons and make a meaningful impact on a larger scale,” Reinhart Scaife said.

She highlighted the Chamber sponsorship program which has grown since its inception in 2017, with 2024 projected to be the strongest year to date and the ongoing success of the LAUNCH Fostoria Business Competition. 2023 was the third year of the competition with all three winners operating active storefronts in Fostoria. The voting money collected at the event finals, which is directly given to the finalists, has raised $31,080 in investment to entrepreneurs signaling strong local support. New for 2024, the Chamber has rolled out Coffee Convos with the Chamber, a new summer kickoff event for member networking and a texting component to stay engaged with members.

Renee Smith, President, Fostoria Economic Development Corporation, highlighted how FEDC’s approach diverges from the norm, and while considered unconventional, the methods are effective. In 2023, Fostoria witnessed an impressive influx of capital expenditures and investments totaling over $104 million. Nearly 140 new jobs were generated, complemented by the retention of nearly 1600 existing jobs through active industrial projects.

“None of these achievements would have been possible without the power of partnership. While some of these partnerships are internal, many extend beyond our organization’s boundaries. We owe a debt of gratitude to the City of Fostoria, the Seneca County Commissioner, the Regional Growth Partnership, JobsOhio, and countless others who collaborate with us on a near-daily basis. Their unwavering support and cooperation are integral to our shared success,” said Smith.

The completion and sale of an industrial spec building at 611 S. Corporate Drive, a 150,000 square foot expansion of Ohio Logistics, and the ongoing investments of companies such as Morgan Advance Materials, Mennel, Callies Performance Products, and Charter Steel have all made significant contributions to our local economy.

Smith also highlighted notable public/private partnership projects with the City of Fostoria including the fully funded Splash Pad project totaling $1.2 million, plans for an inclusive playground, the introduction of a new forestry program, and the much-anticipated future overpass on Town Street.

Smith, who also serves as the managing Director of the Fostoria Learning Center, noted the Learning Center served 2,800 individuals in 2023, a 40% increase from 2022. In addition, course offerings expanded by 44%.

“The customized training and short-term certificate programs, delivered in collaboration with our partners, are undeniably effecting positive change. This not only aids regional businesses but also leaves a tangible impact on the participating individuals. Witnessing the fulfillment of the facility’s mission is truly gratifying as the Fostoria Learning Center represents all that can be accomplished by a community that believes in an idea,” said Smith.

Tom Reineke, Board Chair, FEDC, and Gene Schalk, Board Emeritus, presented the Donald P. Miller Award. The Donald P. Miller Award was established in 2016 and recognizes a community or business leader, or individual who is not an economic development practitioner, but who plays a key leadership role. Recipients have shown support for or been involved in a broad range of activities in economic development and have been deeply committed as a leader and advocate for local economic development. The award is not given every year but only when a worthy recipient has been identified by the FEDC Executive Board. The award was given to Ron Burns. Mr. Burns is the fifth recipient of the award since its inception. He is the longest-serving Executive Board member of the FEDC organization. He has served on the executive board for 32 years and held the offices of Vice Chairman, Chairman, and Treasurer. Mr. Burns is a Fostoria native and a graduate of St. Wendelin High School. He started his own business in 1988 specializing in employee benefits. In his 30 plus years in the employee benefit/insurance business, he founded Corporate One Benefits which he sold to First Insurance in 2017. Mr. Burns also invested in various development projects and collaborated with other investors to achieve significant milestones in Fostoria’s development. The revitalization of the historic Fruth Hardware, working to attract the establishment of a Holiday Inn (currently operating as a Best Western), and the creation of Fairway Estates housing development along State Route 12 are projects he and the collective efforts of many local individuals accomplished. Mr. Burns has also spent many years involved in supporting St. Wendelin School & Parish, The Hilltop Club, and the Greater Fostoria Community Foundation, as well as several others.


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