By Emily Williams - Contributing Writer Springfield News-Sun
The site of Urbana’s new high school is still a construction zone: Hard hats are required upon entry, sawdust clouds the hallways and the building echoes with a steady drum of hammering.
In just about three months, however, the building will be fully prepared for students and teachers to move in, said Urbana superintendent Charles Thiel.
“We’re slightly ahead of schedule,” Thiel said.
Local requirements to be certified for occupancy could cause delays late, but Thiel said the district will be doing its best to work with local authorities and deliver on its target date of April 10, 2018 — right after students return from their spring break.
The new school, at a cost of about $25 million, will replace the 120-year-old school building currently in use. Much of the old school will be torn down to make room for a new parking lot, but the oldest part of the building — referred to as the “castle” — will remain standing, though no definite plans are in place for how it will be used.
Moving into the new building with just five weeks left in the school year might seem unusual, Thiel said, but those weeks will be crucial to completing the full project — including the demolition of the old building and the addition of new parking space — by next fall.
Last week a handful of community members were given a tour of the new building as part of the local chamber of commerce’s “Education Day” for Champaign County leaders.
Key among questions at the meeting regarded tax reform legislation that was passed this week by the House and Senate. Regarding the legislation’s plan to reduce the federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, he said, employers will “plow that extra 14 percent back into their businesses … That is a good thing for all of us and a good thing for our country.”
Jordan also spoke about his desire for a second special counsel to be appointed to investigate the FBI’s activity in the Clinton investigation.
Last month, in another meeting organized by the CEP, Jordan spoke with representatives of local manufacturing companies.
By Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President of Urbana University
A 2017 economic impact study by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) reports that Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, increased the economy of Champaign and Logan Counties by $60.4 million over the course of the 2015-2016 academic year. The estimate, which is nearly double the $31.3 million estimated from the 2010-2011 fiscal year, includes the impact of operations, student spending and capital investment.
The nearly twofold growth in economic impact signals the important engine of growth that Urbana University has become for the region, through money spent in their local areas and through the education and employment of local workers.
As a private, four-year institution located in Urbana, Ohio, Urbana University enrolled nearly 4,000 students and directly employed 150 full- and part-time workers during the 2015-2016 academic year. The institution benefits Champaign and Clark Counties in a number of ways, principally by increasing the training and knowledge base of the area, but also through its expenditures, its employees, and its students.
The local economy receives benefits from Urbana University in three ways: through its operations, student spending, and capital expenditures. The direct spending for its operations affects the local economy as the institution and its employees purchase local goods and services. In turn, those local businesses and associated employees increase spending and buy local goods and services.
The total economic impact from Urbana University’s operations falls into two categories. The first category is the net economic impact of new money from outside of the two-county region that is spent within the local economy because of Urbana University. The second economic impact category is the retained economic impact, which results from spending of local students that may have moved elsewhere for education if it were not for Urbana University.
In addition to the economic impact it provides through salaries, Urbana University has helped raise the skills of the area’s workforce by educating potential workers. This elevated skillset in turn increases the supply of human capital in the region. In addition, by raising the region’s demand for human capital, Urbana University has helped local businesses create jobs for skilled workers.
This contribution is significant because regions with higher levels of human capital tend to be more innovative, have greater amounts of economic activity, and enjoy faster economic growth, and workers in these regions tend to be more productive and earn higher wages.
The 2017 SOCHE report displays the economic impact of Urbana University on the two-county Champaign and Clark County areas. The University increased economic output in the two-county region by nearly $60.4 million in fiscal year 2016 and led to approximately 5.6 million in total tax revenues, of which more than $757,000 accrued to local municipal and county governments.
SOCHE’s impact study illustrates the impact of Urbana University as an economic stimulant for the region. Through changing times and economic climates, Urbana University has continued to provide the quality training and education needed for individuals to better themselves, their careers and their lives. Through internships and other immersive work experiences, our students are connecting with in-demand industries and employers to advance our regional economy.
During fiscal year 2016, Urbana University spent $14.0 million on operations. Of this, approximately $6.7 million is attributable directly to the new money coming into the area due to Urbana University’s presence and $7.4 million is considered retained. This direct spending by the University from outside money generated a further $2.3 million in additional economic activity in Champaign and Clark Counties.
During the fiscal year 2016, Urbana University made capital expenditures. Urbana University made approximately $1.3 million in capital expenditures, of which $251,801 remained in the Champaign and Clark County economy, as many of the goods and services necessary for the capital purchases existed outside of the regional economy. This spending led to further local sales of $97,003, for a total impact on the two-county economy of approximately $349,000.
“Urbana University is an invaluable economic development partner in our county,” said Marcia Bailey, Champaign Economic Partnership, Economic Development Director “Their aggressive approach to developing collaborations has been a true differentiator in driving the regional economy.”
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, SOCHE is the trusted and recognized regional leader for higher collaboration, working with more than 20 colleges and universities to transform their communities and economies through the education, employment and engagement of nearly 150,000 students in southwest Ohio. For more information about SOCHE, visit http://www.soche.org/.
About Urbana University – A Branch Campus of Franklin University
Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, prepares students for successful and professional careers within a caring and supportive environment. Regionally well known for education and teacher preparation programs, Urbana was founded in 1850 and acquired by Franklin in 2014. Urbana’s 128-acre, residential campus nestled in heart of Ohio provides a background for students actively engaged in campus activities through 20 student-led academic, professional, performing arts, social and service organizations. Blue Knights athletics includes 17 NCAA Division II sports and three intercollegiate club sports. Urbana University is a division of Franklin University, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.