By JOHN R. DETWILER
Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce
Over the past 104 years, the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services has served our community, and it has been another banner year for growth and development in both our local businesses and our focus on tourism.
As we continue to branch out with our tourism division, Destination Seneca County, it continues to be difficult to find lodging in Seneca County.
A 2017 Tourism Economics Study reported that the total economic impact of visitors to Seneca County which includes all direct, indirect and induced impacts resulted in sales of $90 million, taxers of $11 million and wages of $27 million, sustaining 1,500 jobs or 6.4 percent of private employment.
We continue to market Seneca County as a destination with our history, unique attractions, shopping and restaurants.
We produce and distribute over 50,000 visitor guides annually across Ohio, and contiguous states as well as sending them through the nation and abroad. In addition to our print presence in magazines, we can be found on billboards, including our electronic billboard marketing our community on SR 18 and U.S. 224 and soon, our electronic billboard on Ohio 53 and Ohio 18.
Visitors have come to visit at their own pace or during a number of bus tours we have hosted throughout the year.
In October, we completed our Seneca County Farmers Market season. We staged eight markets which drew an average of 1,000 visitors per month.
Held on the second and fourth Saturdays from June through September, these markets have become one of our signature events.
In addition to over 30 of our retail and service businesses celebrating milestones, we also stimulated local purchasing through our Chamber Cash and Shop Small Shop Local Shop Chamber programs which put over $25,000 back into our local retailers.
We continue to nurture our relationship with Heidelberg and Tiffin University as we enhance our Around-The-Town Welcome Back Program. In spite of torrential downpours, Presidents Rob Huntington and Lillian Schumacher led over 500 students greeted by more than 60 businesses to experience our downtown.
In collaboration with the County City and Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership we rolled out a new unified brand with a cohesive identity. This reflects the attributes that our community members have in common creating a positive and attractive environment. Complementing our new branding initiative, we rolled out a new Chamber website in collaboration with Spire Advertising, focusing on our continuing support of the community and making sure we are a hub of easily accessible information.
In addition to our continuing work in the community and growing our Chamber membership, we are finishing off our newest edition of the Seneca County Visitor Guide. This brochure is focused on all the attractions for visitors, including local parks, restaurants, shopping, museums, and more.
We are looking forward to a great year as we plan for our major events in 2019. Upcoming in February is our annual Casino Royale fundraiser, while in June, come visit for our annual Chamber Challenge golf outing. We also celebrate our community’s educators during our annual Educator Breakfast.
New this year was our Fall In Love with Tiffin Open Houses, where we encouraged our downtown and greater Tiffin retailers to help us celebrate autumn and bring new and repeat customers into our local businesses.
For more updates about our events, visit our website at tiffinchamber.com.
Through our Destination Seneca County brand, we continue to serve visitors through countywide travel and tourism. We assist with the development of Tiffin’s center city, we nurture potential business owners, we develop lifelong leaders with a mind toward community trusteeship, and we strive to attract retain and engage young professionals and we put safety first and foremost in the workplace.
Looking back on the past year, community involvement continues to grow, businesses continue to advance and our community continues to develop. With that, we cannot wait to see what 2019 will bring to Tiffin and Seneca County.
John R. Detwiler is president and CEO of Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce.