“Memorial Health is excited to partner with the CEP and the health care business liaison efforts – seeing the successes they have had in the manufacturing arena,” said Robin Coffey, communications and PR specialist for Memorial Health and CEP board member.
Other health care businesses supporting the business liaison program are Mercy Health-Urbana Hospital and Champaign Residential Services Inc. Manufacturers supporting the program include Advanced Technology Products, Bundy Baking Solutions, ColePak, The Hall Company, KTH Parts Industries Inc., ORBIS, Parker Trutec, Ultra-met and Weidmann Electrical Technology. Other supporters are Clark State Community College and FASTLANE-MEP.
CEP Director Marcia Bailey said, “Ashley has done a tremendous job. The Champaign County Manufacturing Council has praised her for opening students’ eyes and minds to the rewarding careers available to them here in Champaign County.”
Cook teaches supply chain management full time for Ohio Hi-Point at Urbana High School. As business liaison last school year, she helped:
She will provide these same types of services for health care in her expanded role.
“We do a lot of work in weak-market cities like Springfield, Toledo and elsewhere, but are more interested in making sure our communities are vibrant, sustainable places that people want to stay in and places that people want to move to. So, we do research to understand what are the challenges and opportunities in the state.”
In the analysis, GOPC plans to examine all components of the county’s housing market, including existing market housing conditions, obstacles and opportunities for housing, and housing affordability. The group then will provide recommendations to strengthen the housing market’s competitiveness in a draft to the steering committee by October, then as a final report by the end of the year.
“What we are wanting to provide you with is a road map for how to move forward on the goals that you are setting for yourselves,” Goebel said.
Goebel said that the finished product would sync closely with the comprehensive plan now being finalized by the Logan Union Champaign (LUC) Regional Planning Commission.
A similar report GOPC is finalizing for the city of Springfield contains 16 recommendations divided into six categories, providing what Goebel said is a concrete set of to-do items after she leaves.
A preliminary finding is that most of the people who work in Champaign County also live here, but that more who work here would move here if there were more housing options.
While there is a statewide need for market-rate housing such as single family homes and rehabilitation projects, Champaign County also needs housing affordable to low- and moderate-income individuals, Goebel said.
Goebel said that the study would focus on the municipalities of Urbana, Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris, which contain almost 50% of the county’s population.
GOPC researchers will spend the next several months gathering and analyzing data about Champaign County real estate as well as interviewing developers and other stakeholders. For more information, contact the GOPC at 614-224- 0187.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
She added that KTH has about 900 full-time associates, 130 of them “retirement eligible.”
The ESG team oversees the maintenance of KTH’s 1,100 robots and troubleshooting of mechanical and electrical issues.
Bernardi and Boggs are the first interns that KTH has assigned to work in the ESG department, though the company has had engineering internships for several years, Wead said.
In the Advanced Manufacturing Program at Triad, both interns completed classes in robotics, CNC, manufacturing operations and advanced manufacturing. Their Advanced Manufacturing teacher, Todd Bodey, made them aware of the internship opportunity at KTH.
“I’m not sure where this will take me,” Boggs said, “but the robotics will be very interesting. I’m looking forward to working with everyone here.”
Bernardi said he also is looking forward to working with the ESG team. “I love problem solving.”
The CEP has coordinated other job signing ceremonies for graduates and students at ORBIS, Bundy Baking Solutions and Rittal. The events, patterned after signing ceremonies that colleges conduct for new student athletes, are part of the CEP’s workforce development initiatives.
The CEP has been partnering with employers and local schools to better inform students about local employment opportunities and to help schools prepare students for the local workforce.
KTH Parts Industries Inc. makes underbody structural frame components for cars and is Champaign County’s largest manufacturing employer. KTH is a Tier 1 supplier of automotive components worldwide.
“It’s exciting that another piece of the puzzle has been approved for funding,” said Champaign Economic Partnership Executive Director Marcia Bailey. “Nothing is finalized yet, and we’re not quite ready to sign for the property, but the city, Urbana City Schools and the CEP have done everything we can on our end and now we’re continuing to work with Flaherty & Collins to get this project to the final stages.”
According to ODSA, Legacy Place is only the second project to be awarded in Urbana. The awards are planned to assist private developers in rehabilitating historic buildings in downtowns and neighborhoods that, once rehabilitated, drive further investment and interest in adjacent property.
“The historic preservation tax credit is another way we’re investing in our communities,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a news release. “These investments can spur development in a neighborhood or downtown.”
“Partnering with communities and developers across Ohio, we’re preserving historic sites that make Ohio unique,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of ODSA. “We’re creating new opportunities for small businesses and housing.”
The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office. The state Historic Preservation Office determines if a property qualifies as a historic building and if the rehabilitation plans comply with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Bailey said that in addition to providing a built-in customer base for downtown business owners, the project will be an example for the Moving Downtown Forward committee to inform developers how to move projects ahead in downtown Urbana.
According to information from the ODSA, the Douglas Inn was constructed about 1870 in the Second Empire style with a mansard roof. The structure has been vacant since 2004. 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 Julie Collier, vice president of Development for Flaherty & Collins Properties. “It’s two-fold for us because we’ll help save some important buildings in … Urbana, and we’ll also fulfill a housing need for local residents.”
The two schools, built in 1901 and 1921, served the city’s children until they became vacant in 2018. Bailey said the Ohio Revised Code allows the school district to dis-invest of the two properties no longer needed by the school district. Rather than demolish the buildings, the plan is for them to be purchased by the city for $1 each under an alreadysigned 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 (demolished) 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.”
On March 19, the Urbana City Council unanimously passed a resolution of support for the developers of Legacy Place to apply to the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. Flaherty & Collins also obtained tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
“The best news is that we have a governor who is a farmer,” she added.
“I’ve visited his farm in Cedarville many times and I’ve met the familythat farms his farm, and believe me that farmer is in Gov. DeWine’s ear every single day talking to him about the real issues on Gov. DeWine’s farm itself, but also the issues statewide. So Gov. DeWine has farmers in his heart and in his mind every day as he goes about the state doing the business of the state of Ohio.”
Touring Champaign County farms
At Pelanda’s first stop at Freshwater Farms of Ohio she met owner Dr. Dave Smith, who walked her past a series of fish tanks, some containing fish you could pet or feed. Inside one building he said that each tank contained 4,600 perch at a time and that the crowded school makes the fish feel more at ease.
Smith also explained his RAINBOW - Routing And Integrating Nutrient Byproducts Of Wastewater - program through which he recycles water to irrigate six acres of field to grow melons, pumpkins, bell peppers and tomatoes. With his background in ecology he has fostered a diverse ecosystem of insects that naturally prevents any one pest species from gaining an advantage, making pesticides unnecessary.
Pelanda encouraged Smith to set aside acreage to grow hemp, saying that the governor will be signing a bill later this summer authorizing her, as the director of agriculture, to grant farmers licenses to grow hemp with almost no restrictions.
“Hearing Dave talk about his passion and his vision for what he wants to do in the future with hydroponics and aquaponics is really exciting,” she said prior to the film. “We then moved to Mike (Pullins) and Cathy’s Berry Farm, and in the misty rain we picked some beautiful red and black raspberries, and what a treasure that is going to be to take home to my husband tonight.”
After picking berries, Pelanda sat on an EZ-Go cart with Mike as he explained his farming methods. He said that pick-your-own raspberry season was to begin today and invited area residents to the farm at 5676 E. state Route 29.
According to Pullins, the first berries available will be red raspberries, but black raspberries would likely be available next week.
Pelanda was joined at this stop by Melinda Lee, organization director of the Champaign County Farm Bureau.
Lee gave Pelanda a bottle of wine on behalf of Dragonfly Vineyard.
Finally, Pelanda visited Dugan Road Creamery and was guided through the process of making yogurt. Owner Joyce Nelson said one cow drinks an average of 50 gallons of water and produces 145 pounds of milk every day. Pelanda watched owner Chris Nelson operate a pasteurizing machine that can produce one pound of cheese from a gallon of milk, or four gallons of yogurt from five gallons of milk. “Our final stop was at a unique dairy farm, and it was just wonderful because from cow to yogurt we got to see the process from finish to end, so it was a very memorable visit,” Pelanda said of the visit prior to the film.
For more information about any of the farms on this tour, contact the CEP at 937-653-7200.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
“Every Whole Foods in Ohio carries our products,” he said. “It was a little tough to get into Champaign County, but we sell to Gordon’s FoodService and now they’re using us at several local restaurants. I know for sure that Lincoln & Main carries us now. There were some smaller restaurants that weren’t worth bringing a truck to, but when we started selling with Gordon’s that has allowed us to become the pride of the community, which is a little ironic, I guess.”
Snyder is now working with the Bom Group, of Holland, to design the new greenhouse. The previous two were designed by the Rough Brothers of Cincinnati, which supplied drawings and material, but Snyder said his team was able to build most of it. His father has experience as a general contractor, and they have an engineer on staff.
The two existing greenhouses are fully automated, with total climate control, an opening and closing roof, grow lights, fans, liquid CO2 for cooling and heat pipes.
The second greenhouse is built on a treadmill so that plants start out young on one end, move about five rows forward each day, and are ready to harvest by the time they reach the front row.
From there crops go to the packaging room for shipping the next day. Snyder said they originally shipped on the same day, but some food distributors needed the product temperature to cool more slowly for efficient delivery.
“This has been something I was always pulled toward,” he said. “I grew up in a suburb of Columbus, which is where I had my first garden, and we found this land available on line. I never went to college for agriculture.
We just did a lot of internet research, and none of us were afraid to ask questions. Ohio State has been really helpful, and we went out to Cornell to learn as much as we could before starting the farm.”
Snyder said Old Souls has 12 employees and he hopes to have a staff as large as 80 once the expansion is complete. Interested job seekers are invited to stop by the farm and fill out an application.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
Caty Shoemaker, seated at center, signs her employment contract as an intern at ORBIS in Urbana. Seated at left is her manager, Laura Reed, materials manager, and seated at right is Shoemaker’s fiancé, Sam McGill. Standing from left are Dan Szklany, ORBIS plant manager; Maegan O’Connor, human resources representative; Tom Walker, scheduler; Sharon Cook, buyer/planner; Shelley Fuller, plant scheduler; Julie McGill, Sam McGill’s mother; Judy and Rodney McGill, McGill’s aunt and uncle; Cindy and Perry Shoemaker, Shoemaker’s parents; Jill O’Neal, Caty Shoemaker’s sister; Dean Ortlieb, Urbana fire chief and a cousin of the Shoemaker family; Karen Chuvalas of Urbana University; Ashley Cook, business liaison of the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP); and CEP Director Marcia Bailey.
The Orbis manufacturing facility in Urbana held a May 10 signing ceremony for an Urbana University senior who has begun a scheduling and purchasing internship at the company, which makes reusable plastic containers, pallets, dunnage and bulk systems for industrial customers.
Caty Shoemaker, a West Liberty-Salem High School graduate who will graduate in December from Urbana University, was joined for the signing ceremony by ORBIS leaders, representatives of the university and Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP), and family members, including her sister Jill O’Neal, a former member of the ORBIS team and now human resources operations manager at Weidmann Electrical Technology in Urbana and a member of the CEP Board.
The ceremony, patterned after signing ceremonies that colleges conduct for new student athletes, was coordinated with ORBIS by Ashley Cook, business liaison of the CEP.
Shoemaker is majoring in strategic management and minoring in accounting and marketing at Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University.
Karen Chuvalas, business development manager of the university’s UrbanaWORKS program, said that Christopher Washington, executive vice president and CEO of the university, is developing relationships with local companies to establish internships and co-ops. He wants all students to complete an internship or co-op before graduating.
Bundy Baking Solutions held a signing ceremony a week before for three local students who have joined their workforce.