FEDC and Fostoria Chamber highlight city’s progress at annual meeting

By Sheri Trusty, Seneca County Media Relations Coordinator

The future of Fostoria is looking stronger than ever. On March 21, Fostoria Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) and the Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau hosted their joint annual meeting, where they provided a review of their shared accomplishments in 2023 and their collective goals for the future.

Fostoria’s future is in the competent hands of the collaborative team of FEDC President Renee Smith, Project Administrator Sarah Stephens Krupp, Chamber/Visitor’s Bureau Director Jocelyn Reinhart Scaife, Grants Writer Michele Cochran and Office Administrator Sherry Yaple.

“We are a team, a partnership, and we have the opportunity to do great things together,” Stephens Krupp said.

FEDC and the Fostoria Chamber hosted its joint annual meeting on March 21. Shown here are, from left, Seneca County Commissioner Tyler Shuff, Project Administrator Sarah Stephens, Seneca County Administrator Barb Patterson, FEDC President Renee Smith, Chamber/Visitor’s Bureau Director Jocelyn Reinhart Scaife and Seneca County Commissioner Bill Frankart.

Together, they are bringing impactful changes to the community, including fun elements like a splashpad and an inclusive playground, and they are working toward infrastructure improvements, like implementing the Safe Routes to School program, which is an Ohio Department of Transportation program that provides support and funding to increase safe access routes to local schools.

Those projects are just a few of the initiatives that the joint FEDC/chamber team is developing as it works to evolve, thrive and make lasting contributions to the community, Stephens Krupp said.

Reinhart Scaife provided an overview of the chamber’s accomplishments in 2023, including the continued success of the chamber’s sponsorship program and its Coffee Convos with the Chamber events.

FEDC President Renee Smith talked about the organization’s unconventional but effective approach toward progress at the annual meeting. (Photo by Zach Stumpf, Scanner Media)

Smith talked about FEDC’s unconventional approach toward progress in areas like grant acquisitions and workforce development.

“We’re unconventional but effective,” Smith said. “We pushed the boundaries.”

Pushing the boundaries broke down barriers in 2024, creating opportunities for over $104 million in capital investments, the creation of 139 jobs and the retention of 1,539 jobs. One of FEDC’s foundational strengths is its willingness to work collaboratively with Seneca County Commissioners, the City of Fostoria, neighboring villages and townships, and other local organizations.

“The power of partnership and collaboration is truly exciting,” Smith said.

The county benefitted immensely by FEDC’s commitment to collaboration when Smith agreed to transfer the county’s grant writing and management duties to her office on January 1.

“We really appreciate the partnership we have with FEDC, and we are looking forward to all the opportunities they are going to tackle as our grant writer for the county,” said Seneca County Commissioner Bill Frankart.

FEDC has a strong partner in the Fostoria Learning Center (FLC), which serves as a hub of workforce development. In 2023, FLC offered over 65 programs and served 2,289 individuals, further highlighting the power of collaboration that is foundational to Fostoria’s progress.

“All this is accomplished by a committee that simply believes in an idea,” Smith said.

At the core of collaboration is the people who are committed to bettering Fostoria. One of those individuals was recognized as a longtime advocate of the city. Ron Burns, FEDC’s longest-serving board member, was presented with the Donald P. Miller award, which is given to a local leader who is committed to economic development in Fostoria.

Ron Burns was presented with the Donald P. Miller award at the FEDC/Fostoria Chamber joint annual meeting. (Photo by Zach Stumpf, Scanner Media) 

“It’s not really about me. It’s about the community. It’s about the people on the board,” Burns said.

FEDC was formed, Burns said, “by a group of people who wanted to improve the vision and quality of life in Fostoria.”

“It’s still that today, but it’s so much more,” he said.

In addition to Commissioner Frankart, several other dignitaries attended the annual meeting, including State Senator Bill Reineke, State Rep. Gary Click, Fostoria Mayor Don Mennel, Seneca County Commissioner Tyler Shuff and Seneca County Administrator Barb Patterson.

“The Commissioners’ Office is very proud of the relationship we have with FEDC and the Fostoria Chamber,” Commissioner Shuff said. “It was great to hear of their accomplishments over the past year, and we look forward to all of the great things to come.”