2015 State of the City

At a recent Goodwill Board of Directors meeting, Eric Kochendorfer had invited one of Goodwill’s students, Tim Borich, to give an update on his progress. Tim started his career with Goodwill several years ago. Over the years, he gained a good work ethic, skills, training and experience. He now has a position with T.J. Maxx in the Sandusky Mall. Tim described his responsibilities at his new job. He had a hard time containing the enthusiasm of his new role. He looks forward to going to work to improve his craft. He has a bright, positive future. This story is a win/win for Goodwill, T.J. Maxx and Tim. This story is the mission of Goodwill Industries. Recently, another win/win story came to fruition when the Lichtscien family gave the former NBC/Rinks/Cook/Harts/Pamida building to Goodwill Industries. The Lichtsciens have a long successful history of entrepreneurship and giving. Goodwill and the City of Bellevue are thankful to the Lichtscien family for their generosity. In the four years since Eric Kochendoerfer has taken over as CEO of Goodwill, the organization has experienced strong and consistent growth. Eric has a rare vision and ability that allows Goodwill’s profitability to grow, while meeting its primary goal of providing mission services to an increasing amount of individuals. At the February board meeting, Eric was given approval to invest up to $610,000 in the Bellevue facility. It is projected to be in full operation by summer. This transaction was a win for the city as well. A building, that had been unoccupied for several years ,now has a tenant. It is projected that, over the next 18 months, over 50 jobs will be created. Based on the Sandusky Goodwill’s track record, you can expect the building to be occupied for many years to come.

 

The bike trail continues to progress. Currently, the path’s design and specifications are under review. While we hope that the federal and state funds that total $1,170,594 would arrive in the summer, the projected release date is in the fall. During the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to numerous cities: San Diego, Chicago, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, to name a few. In these cities, bike paths are vital to their infrastructure. Recently, Google Motorola Mobility moved its new home to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. One of the primary reasons for the move was its location to the city’s first green lane. Although a bike trail will not bring industry to Bellevue, I believe it enhances what the city has to offer, not only to industry, but to people looking to relocate in our area. I believe having a portion of the trail on Route 20 is free advertising. Travelers unfamiliar with the area will be able to see it as they travel on Route 20. Recently, Marc Weisenberger and I attended the Firelands Trails annual meeting. Representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation Safety Committee gave a presentation on bike trails, paths and lanes for the State of Ohio. In summary, bike usage is growing, not only in Ohio, but nationwide and the state is very supportive in the future expansion. The Recreation Department continues to improve their parks and green spaces throughout the city.

 

The Central Park Gateway has a target completion date of June 2015. The gateway will allow the park to provide outdoor entertainment, while residents can bring their lawn chairs and gather together to enjoy local talent. It will provide residents an opportunity to interact with friends and neighbors, as well as, give the downtown area businesses an opportunity to attract customers. Kenn and Donn Rospert, who were the driving force behind the Veterans Memorial site, have lined up the Ohio Flags of Honor ceremony to take place on June 26th at 7 PM as part of the Community Days activities. The traveling display is a way for the Foundation to help facilitate fellowship for families ,friends and communities who want to pay tribute to Ohio’s fallen soldiers. Through their display, they hope to also raise public awareness and support for Ohio’s returning veterans. The display of over 300 flags is a memorable event that I would encourage everyone to see.

 

This past year, the city upgraded and enhanced its website. The previous site had not changed in over a decade. The new site has the capabilities of allowing phone users to get more information from the newer website. The data shows, strong increasing  phone usage to make financial transactions and various forms of communications is here to stay. The city wants to stay current with this trend. Our attempt is to provide all forms of communication that is pertinent to our citizens from a non-profit approach. The city had an audit report performed a few years ago, with one of the suggestions being the utilization of a facebook page by the police department. That suggestion was implemented and improved, allowing it to be a useful tool to the detectives in apprehending criminals for the city of Bellevue. The website’s goal will be to provide up-to-date information and data that affects local citizens.

 

The administration has worked closely with the Bellevue Development Corporation with many positive results. 350+ new industrial jobs created within the last 3 years. A good indication that the economy and the Bellevue area manufacturers are doing well.  Thanks goes to Transformation Network coming to town to help individuals that need assistance in entering the workforce. Wilbert Plastics’ Electrical substation was completed, dramatically lowering the energy cost by switching from electrical to transmission rates. This is highly beneficial to Wilbert in setting up lower-cost production lines, such as the Ford Mustang components. Mitsubishi Chemical, if they had not stepped in, A.Schulman  would have shut down. Since taking over, Mitsubishi has increased production and they are looking to expand. Warehousing firms are in the process of evaluating the potential for new operations here in Bellevue. Cooperative ventures with MCPP and their new rail spurs will make Bellevue one of the lowest cost centers for manufacturers requiring bulk raw materials or rail delivery of finished goods. New retail operations are in the process of establishing new commercial enterprises here and there are more are on the horizon.  There are other projects that are in the works and as they become a reality, we can share the details. I want to emphasis a key point, and Steve Fuhr can back me up on this, new industrial and commercial enterprises are stating that Bellevue is the most “business friendly” community they have ever worked with.  This has been stated numerous times. Last week, at the Sandusky County Economic Development Corporation’s annual meeting, Bellevue was recognized for numerous expansion projects. Then, yesterday, there was a press release from a national economic development publication, Site Selection Magazine, announced that Fremont- Sandusky County has been recognized as one of the top 25 micropolitan regions in the country for business and expansion. Five cities, within the 17-county northwest Ohio footprint, were ranked among the best nationally, based on the number of business development projects. According to Kay Reiter, Executive Director for Sandusky County Economic Development Corporation, “In the 2014 year, over $200 million of announced capital investment projects were reported from the Sandusky County business community that includes the City of Bellevue.

 

The bid for the Walnut Street water main improvement project was awarded to R.A. Bores Excavating. The cold weather has set the time frame of the project back a few weeks, but they are ramping up for the job now. That is a $250,000 investment. Once the line is in, the street will be repaved.

 

A couple of weeks ago, there was an article in the Sandusky Register stating that, over the past two years, the cost to the taxpayers for the city employees’ health insurance costs had increased from $2.66 million to $3.74 million or a total increase of $1,080,000. The last two years, Bellevue city employees’ health insurance costs have actually gone down. I congratulate the employees for contributing to the success of keeping the cost down. I also want to recognize Jeff Crosby and Dave Kile for initiating the health care changes in contract negotiations. This led to the significant cost savings the city is currently getting.

 

As I have toured most of the local companies, I have been impressed with the similar pattern of how they do business. A focus, a top priority of always working to improve the quality of the product and always looking for ways to improve their efficiency. As a business owner, I appreciate and applaud their motives, and as Mayor, I have and will continue to promote this type of culture as we, the city employees, serve the community.