Toledo official plans to devote more time to baseball research

From Jon Chavez at the Toledo Blade on August 1, 2012, on SABR member Tom Blaha:

Tom Blaha admits that nearly three decades ago when he was first hired to do economic development in northwest Ohio, he was a neophyte in the position.

He had no economic development experience, there was no blueprint or manual to tell someone how to sell companies on an area, and worse — he had no job to fall back upon, having just returned to Ohio after losing his teaching job in Scotland.

His new employers, the Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa, and Seneca Community Action Commission in Fremont, gave him a meager $30,000 budget that included his tiny $20,000 salary.

“I thought I might be the only guy I know who went from teaching to something that paid even less money,” Mr. Blaha recalled.

But he learned the job quickly. And after eight years guiding the WSOS, he became such a good salesman that officials in Wood County approached him about creating an economic development department.

Mr. Blaha has spent the last 19 years in Bowling Green as the first and only executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, and over his tenure he has helped bring in more than $3 billion in business investments and nearly 8,000 jobs to Wood County.

However, all good things come to an end, and on Tuesday Mr. Blaha, 65, retired from his longtime position as Wood County’s master salesman. A search is under way for his replacement.

“I turned 65 this year and I had my first grandchild. There’s a lot of things on my bucket list, so it was time,” Mr. Blaha said of his decision. “I feel lucky that I still have a lot of energy, and my wife and I will be able to do things together. “

First up, he is headed to the Olympics in London. Afterward, he plans to research and write sports articles, a hobby he developed through his affiliation with the Society for American Baseball Research.

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Originally published: August 1, 2012. Last Updated: August 1, 2012.