By BRIAN BOHNERT
Fostoria Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) named its new face of operations Thursday.
Renee Smith, the city’s current grants writer, will assume her new duties as FEDC president Aug. 1, taking over for interim director, Dennis Hellmann.
Smith, who has been the grants writer since September 2012, will serve as the full-time successor to Joan Droll, who ran the organization for nearly five years. Droll was formerly named FEDC director on April 1, 2010 after being appointed interim director in March 2009.
As the city’s grants writer, a position supported by FEDC and the City of Fostoria, Smith has successfully submitted a multitude of grants throughout the past two years, bringing in approximately $2 million for a variety of community projects, according to a news release.
Prior to joining the city, Smith received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Findlay and worked in the nonprofit sector in Findlay. She also co-authored three books, the release states.
“I have the utmost confidence in Renee,” said Dave Whitta, former FEDC board chairman in the news release. “We have been impressed with her ability to quickly move issues to a positive resolution and her broad involvement in the community. In a short period of time, her expertise has benefited the Geary Family YMCA, Greater Fostoria Community Foundation, the Rail Preservation Society and many others.”
Among her accomplishments, Smith played an important role in the Geary Family YMCA being awarded $35,000 in grant money to go toward improvements and sports-related renovations at Foundation Park. The organization received approval for two grants in October 2013: $30,000 from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and $5,000 via the Diamond Improvement Grant from the Cleveland Indians baseball club.
Smith prepared and submitted applications for both grants. The process of applying for the money began in March 2013 with the notification of approval coming at the end of September 2013.
In a Thursday interview with the Review Times, Smith could not conceal her smile as she described her excitement for this new opportunity. She said the city of Fostoria has a history as “an industrial manufacturing community with a strong agricultural base,” as well as an extensive rail and highway transportation network she believes can be capitalized on in the future.
“I think there is so much potential here in Fostoria, and I’m anxious to get started in the job and hit the ground running,” Smith said.
Smith said she has spent the last couple of weeks familiarizing herself with different things going on in the community and hopes to come to her new position prepared to accomplish major goals such as job creation and retention.
“I’m a goal setter. I have short-term goals, I have long-term goals; it’s kind of my thing,” she said. “It’s something that we need to develop as a group. Myself, the executive board, the general board … it’s going to be an ongoing process and we’re going to spend the next few months putting together a strategic game plan and run with it.”
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