“At least 75 percent of economic development is retention – helping existing businesses succeed and possibly expand their operations to provide jobs and a tax base that improves our county’s quality of life,” says Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP).
That’s why she and the CEP Board of Trustees created a team that visits local businesses to learn more about them, including what’s working for them and what challenges they face in reaching their goals.
So far, the JOBS (Jobs, Opportunities, Buildings and Space) team has visited Honeywell Aerospace, Bundy Baking Solutions and the Hall Company. The JOBS team is available to visit any type of business – not just manufacturing. Businesses wanting a visit may call the CEP at 937-653-7200.
The CEP is a partnership of local government and business created in 2015 to promote economic development, workforce development and job retention and creation in Champaign County.
The JOBS team varies from one visit to the next, but generally consists of Bailey; a county commissioner; a city and/or village administrator; an education representative, from Urbana University, Clark State Community College and/or Ohio Hi-Point Career Center; and a workforce development representative, from Ohio Means Jobs Champaign County or the Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services.
During the visits, the team learns about each business:
· Their products, services, markets and history
· Local companies they do business with
· What they like about doing business in Champaign County
· What they think would make doing business easier
· Plans, such as expansion, new products or markets, and what they’ll need to make it happen, such as more land or building space, additional utility access, more employees or training for existing staff
“Our JOBS team visits enable us to see how the CEP and our partnerships with private businesses, local government, education, workforce development, and regional and state economic development agencies can boost local businesses,” Bailey says. “And our visits help businesses learn about the resources the CEP and our partners have to offer. They learn that we’re ready to help.”
She adds, “From these visits I’ve learned a lot about our local businesses. I’m impressed by the quality of the products they produce, the skill and technology that goes into making them and the high regard they’ve earned in markets across the country and around the globe.”
In the visits the businesses have cited as advantages good relationships with the city of Urbana, utilities and local suppliers; a relatively good cost of doing business; and the Grimes Field airport.
Challenges that they’ve cited include upcoming retirements and meeting current workforce needs, including machinists and entry-level positions. A need for more space to increase business capacity was also mentioned at one of the visits.
Ten monitors will be placed in public areas – one each at the five Champaign County high schools; in the villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris; Urbana University; and Ohio Hi-Point. The monitors will be installed beginning in late August. Content shown on the monitors will be generated by the CEP.
Urbana University and Ohio Hi-Point Career Center are providing funds to purchase the monitors and associated equipment, while DP&L and FASTLANE are assisting with funding for ongoing media service to broadcast content on the monitors.
CEP Director Marcia Bailey added that Berry Digital Solutions is helping the CEP manage the project and that Weidmann Electrical Technology Inc. funded the original monitor at the CEP.
The purpose, she said, is to inform students and other county residents about local career opportunities and education and training available to prepare students for the workforce “I’m a strong believer in the education-workforce ecosystem. And the CEP is leading the way to organizing education and employers, preparing talent to meet the needs of our employers,” said Christopher Washington, executive vice president and CEO of Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University.
The monitors are the ideal way to deliver the information, he adds.
“Kids today are digitally wired and pay attention to what’s on the screen.”
Kelsey Webb, Ohio Hi-Point director of communications and marketing, said, “We’re participating because this is completely in our wheelhouse to prepare students for career or college. We’re excited to help spread the message that there are great opportunities here for students.”
“You really need someone who has a dedicated staff and has time to work on it,” he said.
The new Champaign Foundation has its own board of directors who will manage the new foundation. Staff at the Springfield Foundation will offer advice and manage most of the day-to-day operations, said Todd Michael, one of the new board members for the Champaign Foundation.
“It’s an opportunity to put philanthropic people and the needs of the community together,” Michael said.
The groups are working together to boost awareness of the new entity, including passing out T-shirts during harness racing events at the Champaign County Fair.
Entities like the Springfield Foundation collect contributions from donors and invest and administer the funds. Together, the donors contribute to endowments to provide benefits throughout the community. The Champaign Fund recently started its effort to solicit initial donors, Michael said.
The new foundation has already seen some interest from agencies like Urbana University, the Grimes Flying Lab Foundation and the Champaign Aviation Museum, Vander Roest said.
“We wanted to make sure this was started correctly and managed properly,” Michael said of the new foundation.
On the web:
The Champaign Foundation: www.champaignfoundation.org
The Springfield Foundation: www.springfieldfoundation.org
Representatives of Flaherty & Collins Properties have been working with the city of Urbana and the Champaign Economic Partnership to develop Legacy Place, a proposed 51 units of senior housing that would occupy the former North and South elementary schools as well as the Douglas Inn on Monument Square. Local officials have been working with architect McCall Sharp Architecture, Springfield, and say that they are 10-11 months from closing on the property sale and beginning construction, which they hope will happen in summer of 2019.
On July 24, the Urbana City Council unanimously authorizing a fee waiver of up to $500 in support of Flaherty & Collins’ application to the affordable housing program of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, including but not limited to water and sewer tap fees, construction permit fees and zoning fees. The resolution affirmed that the city council supports the efforts of Flaherty & Collins to obtain the necessary financing resources to redevelop all three buildings.
Flaherty & Collins also obtained tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and state historic credits, all of which add points to the competitive application to the affordable housing program, due in mid-August.
“The big win was we got a tax credit allocation through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, that was announced in May, and we still have some smaller pots of money to run after,” said Julie Collier, vice president of development with Flaherty & Collins. “We’re about 10-11 months from closing and construction start. We still need to come up with plans and get our arms around specific construction costs, which we’re doing and putting a lot of work in there to date, but there’s still some work to do. Some of it is just going after some other funding pots. We’ll hear back on those by the end of the year and have some better thoughts and direction then. Our hope is to close June/July of 2019 and start construction then.”
Marcia Bailey, CEP’s economic development director, the Ohio Revised Code allows the school district to dis-invest of the two properties no longer needed. Rather than demolish the buildings, the plan is for them to be purchased by the city for $1 each under an already-signed purchase agreement. Then the CEP will act on behalf of the city to sell the buildings to Flaherty and Collins.
“The city council agreed to do all of this,” said Bailey. “We had the city schools that were willing because they didn’t want to see the buildings demo-ed either, and it’s a cost savings for taxpayers not to have to pay for the demolition. But the city council agreed that they will take on the buildings … That was an important component, because if the city had not agreed to do that we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now.”
When ready to complete the sale of property, Flaherty & Collins will work directly with private owner John Doss to acquire the Douglas Inn.
“Just seeing the Douglas get put back into use again is a very positive thing for the community,” said Community Development Manager Doug Crabill. “Seeing those school buildings be reused rather than being torn down and vacant lots gives us a good feeling, because at least we know there is a plan for re-purposing those buildings.”
“It’s something we’re used to doing and we feel like there’s usually an extra need for senior housing in communities, and in communities like Urbana there’s a need to help older (buildings) continue their life,” said Collier. “It’s two-fold for us because we’ll help save some important buildings in downtown Urbana, and we’ll also fulfill a housing need for local residents.”
The future Legacy Place community will be for residents 55 or older making 60 percent of the area median income or less, roughly $24,000 to $25,000 a year. Bailey said that in addition to providing a built-in customer base for downtown Realtors, the project will be an example to members of the Moving Downtown Forward committee to inform developers how to move projects ahead in downtown Urbana.
The company, the oldest continuously owned and operated fire apparatus manufacturer in the U.S., is establishing a new Service, Parts and Refurbishment Center at 49 N. Ludlow Road, Urbana. The company is recruiting service technicians and will initially provide 22 jobs at the Urbana facility.
The new location gives Sutphen room to expand its parts inventory and focus more on refurbishing fire engines, a side of the business with promising growth potential, says President Drew Sutphen, the fourth generation of his family to lead the 128-year-old company.
Sutphen recently attended a Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) Board of Trustees meeting with Todd Winnenberg, general manager of the company’s Service and Chassis Divisions.
Winnenberg said the new Urbana facility will enable the company to expand chassis assembly operations at Sutphen’s Springfield site. He added that the company will also use the new Urbana site to launch Sutphen University, a new program for training and educating customers.
“We’re so excited to welcome such an established and growing business to Champaign County,” CEP Director Marcia Bailey said. “And we’re grateful for the cooperative effort that has made this possible.”
She gives special credit to Terry Howell of Howell Brothers Development, which originally built Sutphen’s new Urbana location in 2012 for Pioneer DuPont. Howell has worked with Sutphen to modify the facility to accommodate the company’s specialized needs.
Howell said: “I really appreciate the County Building Regulations Department working with us and providing guidance in the project. It’s a great use of the facility, and Sutphen is a great company to have in Champaign County.
“They will be the largest employer, besides the schools, for the Triad school district – just a great addition to the community.”
Winnenberg said: “We are working hard to grow the service and parts piece of the business. It’s a good feeling to know that we have grown to the point where we need additional space and employees.” He added that the new location offers space for future expansion.
“In a time when we see so much change within manufacturers in the industry, it is refreshing to know that Sutphen is here. Still family-owned, still strong, stable and committed to the fire service, and continuing to grow,” Sutphen said.
“We have seen consistent growth in sales, and as a result of that, we can expand the business in ways that will allow us to continue to put out a great product and meet the increased demands we are seeing. It’s all about building a better experience for our customers, and that is what we are committed to.”
Sutphen, which is headquartered in Dublin, also is experiencing growth at other locations:
* Last year the company announced a new manufacturing facility in Scranton, Pa.
* The company’s Hilliard manufacturing facility recently created a new and improved customer final inspection area.
* Sutphen’s Dublin manufacturing facility will repurpose an existing building for pumper body assembly to meet demands and increase custom pumper output.