“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.”
Starting or expanding a business requires hard work, attention to detail and numerous points of contact, to turn plans into reality.
The Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) simplifies the process as the starting point for anyone wanting to establish or expand business in Champaign County. And the CEP recently added to its website a helpful guide – the CEP Business Playbook.
The Playbook outlines key elements involved in starting or growing a business and the appropriate agencies to call on for help. The Playbook covers details such as writing a business plan, registering a business, finding available property with the appropriate zoning, acquiring necessary licenses and permits, business loans, marketing, utilities, and finding and retaining employees.
“The Playbook is a good resource to review before contacting us at the CEP to discuss your plans and develop a strategy for achieving your goals,” Marcia Bailey, director of the CEP, said.
“As Champaign County’s designated economic development agency, the CEP serves as the place for business developers to start. We can connect you with all the resources needed to start or grow a business, through our partnerships with local governments, state and regional economic development agencies, real estate agencies, utilities, lenders, workforce development and others,” Bailey said.
The Business Playbook can be accessed from the “CEP Business Playbook” tab on the top navigation bar of the CEP website.
The Playbook was developed with the help of the Small Business Development Center in Springfield, which serves Champaign County, Wittenberg University business students and Hannah Tukesbrey Kilbride, CEP administrative assistant.
For information on starting or expanding a business in Champaign County, contact the CEP at (937) 653-7200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.