BY SHERI TRUSTY
Ottawa County’s business community is thriving because the people behind those companies are concerned with impacting more than just their bottom line. Countless business owners, managers and employees are utilizing their businesses as springboards for benevolence and community growth. On Thursday, March 16, a few of them were recognized during the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC) Business and Industry Awards event held at Gideon Owen Wine Company.
Guest speaker for the event was Michael Wilson of The Wellness Project, a downtown Port Clinton mental health resource center and home of The Wellness Project podcast. At the awards event, Wilson talked about the Source of Strength suicide prevention program, which provides training and curriculum to schools and other organizations.
OCIC Executive Director Chris Singerling also shared updates on the organization’s strategic plan. Last year’s plan focused on business retention and expansion, as well as communications and marketing. This year, OCIC is committed to continue that focus while adding two new pillars to the 2023 strategic plan: Business attraction and comprehensive community development.
Singerling said the many-layered efforts of OCIC to support and strengthen the local business community, such as connecting companies with available grants, educating future employees at the Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy, and addressing the housing shortage that creates challenges for businesses attempting to attract workers to the county.
“We’re going to roll out a housing study,” Singerling said.
This year’s OCIC Business and Industry Awards recipients were:
- Entrepreneur of the Year: Katie Reinhart of Lateral Gig
- Economic Development Partner Award: North Point Educational Service Center
- Bill Mack Business Leader Award: Kathy Barbee of Christy’s Corner Café
- Business of the Year: Gideon Owen Wine Company
- Volunteer of the Year: Craig Schabel of Gordon Food Service and Catawba Bay Hidden Lake Marina