Also known as entrepreneurship, small business development focuses on creating an ecosystem that promotes more start-up and small business activity and growth in a community. It includes counseling, assistance in obtaining capital, the development and promotion of small business programs, and other various resources.
In late 2019, TSEP formed the first Tiffin-Seneca Entrepreneurship Committee (TCDC), and Tiffin and the surrounding area became a part of the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) entrepreneurship program led by the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP).
In 2020, TSEP solicited proposals from 3 consultants to create an entrepreneurship strategic plan, and GLCAP was selected, with funding for the plan coming through the RCDI grant. A plan for the strategic planning process was approved by the CDC, and GLCAP began facilitating the 18-month initiative. The initial accomplishments in the latter part of 2020 included a detailed assessment of the current entrepreneurial ecosystem, a stakeholder survey, and an in-depth Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (SWOT) analysis. Next steps are focus groups and community engagement. The plan is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
In late 2019, TSP was approached by North Central Electric about working with them to bring the Illinois-based Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship's CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program - a successful, national model for rural high school entrepreneurship - to Seneca County.
The program meets weekly at local businesses, and the students form a class and then and individual business. The program transforms the lives of the students and creates real-world
businesses, many of which survive as a side business and some which evolve to become bricks and mortar companies. A Steering Committee was assembled and met in January, a new legal nonprofit was formed in May, and a board of trustees soon thereafter. In September, the Seneca CEO program was announced as the 58th program nationally and first in Ohio. 37 investors signed-on to support the hiring of a part-time facilitator for the next 3 years. With that in place and the recent agreement with Terra State Community College to serve as the administrative agent, the first class of students will begin this fall.
In 2020, North Central Electric partnered with TSEP to bring the CEO high school entrepreneurship program to Ohio, creating a new non-profit and securing funding from almost 40 investors. The first group of students will start the program in Fall 20201.