By Jenna Lawson, Springfield News-Sun Staff Writer
The last bit of needed funding has been secured to push forward the ‘Legacy Place’ senior housing project in Urbana.
Sourcing all of the funding has been a tedious multi-year task undertaken by several different parties — but soon residents will start to see the fruits of labor.
“This is going to be a reality,” said Champaign Economic Development Director Marcia Bailey. “It’s not just sketches on a piece of paper. It’s going to be a reality.”
In August, the developers of the project — Flaherty & Collins Properties — applied for a grant through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati with the help of community partners.
Judges for the contest were George Walker of Advanced Technology Products (ATP); Andrea Mitchell of Job and Family Services; and Nicole Rush of the St. Paris Public Library.
Assisting with the contest were Jason Taylor of Shaffer Manufacturing/ Bundy Baking Solutions, donating the mouse traps; and Dan Yohey of Rittal, creating and making the trophies for the winners.
“Our largest trading partner is in Israel, so we do a lot of business with GE Healthcare in Israel, but they build stuff in different places, so we make these large sensors, and our sensors go on their call-meters they use for scanning. So we’re selling stuff that goes to their division that does gamma cameras,” Hall said. “They build a lot of them in the Netherlands.
We have a couple customers in the Netherlands, but most of the business in the Netherlands, they actually buy panels from us, so we’ll negotiate a contract with GE for the year… and some of them they ship directly to Haifa in Israel. Some of us they will tell us to ship to another company in Israel, and then some of them they’ll ship to the Netherlands. And those people who produce these call meters will attach our part and then they ship the entire thing. That’ll all GE Israel, but it still goes to different places.“
Hall explained that as an industrial printer, the company works in about five different segments including medical, aviation, industrial equipment and consumer products, most of which remain in the United States. But the percentage of international sales has been growing, particularly as Hall builds a relationship with General Electric, which has divisions in Israel, China, Japan and is growing and buying new companies all the time, according to Hall.
“Most of what we’re doing overseas is actually medical,” he said. “There are occasions where we sell aviation and some other things, because we have customers all over the place, but from a volume standpoint it’s really mostly medical, and that drives our business. Sixty percent of our business is medical in any given year. Probably 10 percent plus is aviation, we have another 10 percent that is probably industrial automation. A percentage of it is consumer products, and then we do stuff for scientific and testing equipment, anything you can think of. If you think about it, everything needs a switch, a sensor, an overlay, a nameplate or a label telling you what it is. Everything out there has something on it.”
According to the company website, The Hall Company has been providing world-class solutions to customers in the sensor, printed electronics and identification product markets globally since 1961. William D. Hall Sr., who was an aeronautical engineer by trade, founded The Hall Company in his basement in Urbana initially to serve the aerospace industry. The company’s initial product offerings included metal nameplates, foil labels, printed lenses and metal control panels. The Hall Company supported the budding space program by providing printed lenses and nameplates to the Gemini and Apollo space missions. As the company grew its engineering and production capabilities, it started producing graphical overlays and printed circuit boards.
“In the 1970s plastics hit the market, and that changed everything,” said Kyle Hall. “We started doing a lot of plastic printed overlays … Then in the late ’70s printed electronics hit the market and become one of our biggest businesses. We got one of the first patents in the United States for a membrane switch. It took off and became our largest volume business, and it still is today.
“We think we exported our first part in 1993, and that went to Hong Kong,” he added. “When my father (James) was around they did a lot in Germany, a lot in Japan, but our sales were at a lower level. They’re higher now, so back then it was probably a lower percentage of total sales.
Over the last several years it’s just really taken off, and it’s been by a couple customers.”
Hall said that today his company exports switches and high-tech sensors to companies all over the world, but particularly to General Electric, as well as an American corporation that does its manufacturing in Mexico.
“That customer moved their production from the United States to Mexico, so that’s not great for the American economy, but we were able to hold onto it, so it’s good from that standpoint,” Hall said. “We’re still exporting that … we’ve been doing business with GE for 40-something years and now pretty much when they need a switch like this anywhere in the world they just contact us.”
Hall said they began doing business with the Israeli Ministry of Defense around 2008, but had previously worked with a smaller company in Israel that now works with General Electric.
Kyle Hall is the third generation of his family to take on the role of company president, following his father James’s passing in 2008, and said he has seen the technology change even in his 11 years at the helm.
“We’ve looked more to digital,” he said. “We’ve gone from membrane switches to looking for a lot of capacitive technology - more of whole builds instead of just selling a switch or a circuit. We’re doing a lot more valueadded assembly. We’re looking at growing our current customer base and how we can really concentrate on expanding with them, and that’s going to lead to some new international things.
We anticipate our international business to double over the next five years, based on what our customers are doing, which would be very good for us.”
Hall is currently a member of the Champaign Economic Partnership’s board and says he tries to support them as much as he can.
“I think it’s a good entity for the county from an economic development standpoint,” he said.
“I think it works well. When the city was doing one thing and the county was doing another thing it was kind of all over the place, it was complex. So I think now that everyone’s pooled resources it makes sense.”
His company is also a member of the Dayton Development Corporation and Hall served on their board several years ago. The DDC hosted a seminar to introduce local businesses to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and to give them information about quoting and bidding services.
Hall said he was unable to attend the seminar due to a quality audit scheduled for the same day, but he did travel to Dayton to have lunch with Israeli representatives the next day.
“It was kind of just a meet and greet to see how we could partner,” Hall said. “I think they’re looking for whole pieces of equipment like cars and tanks and things like that, whereas we just make components.
But we got some ideas for how we can look at it, and we are registering with the IMOD to see if we could quote something at all, because there could be something we do that could be a replacement part or something of that nature.”
Last year, 21 percent of Hall’s international sales went directly to Israel.
Another 44 percent of sales went to the Netherlands, but Hall explained that most of those products will end up in Israel.
While Hall creates both tier one and tier two components, the company they work with in the Netherlands is a total second tier provider.
Hall said he has traveled overseas when it is necessary, but because GE is based in America it is often more convenient to have GE representatives visit Urbana. He said that GE moved a lot of their medical business to China a few years ago and no longer builds anything at their corporate offices in Milwaukee.
“Our international business is based off of long-standing relationships with companies that are just doing stuff overseas,” Hall said. “We do have smaller companies that will reach out to us, they’ll find us on the web and stuff like that, but it’s really more driven by GE and ComEd and Siemens and people like that.”
Despite Hall’s international ambitions, the company still hires a largely local workforce, has maintained a head count of about 35 employees at their local plant, and currently has open positions they are looking to fill. In this way, Hall hopes to strengthen the economy both for entry-level manufacturing specialists seeking a job, and for the country as a whole.
“The best way to fix an economy, whether it’s broken or just to improve it, is to make something here, send it overseas, and bring those dollars back here,” Hall said.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304
$40K will be spent to look at challenges facing Urbana, county’s 3 villages
“We want development to occur where there is available or nearby infrastructure. We are an agricultural community and we want to be able to preserve agricultural land as well,” she added.
The study will cost $40,000, and it will be paid for with funds set aside by Champaign County commissioners to be used for economic development, Bailey said. The study aims to compare municipalities in the county to others in the state that are tackling similar problems such as aging housing stock, a fair number of blighted properties and limited land for new housing developments.
Bailey said the study will be similar to the one recently conducted in Springfield that looked at what the city could do to attract new housing opportunities.
The Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis for Springfield was released in August and made six major recommendations to city officials.
Those recommendations included playing into preexisting assets, continued focus on downtown revitalization and rehabbing existing housing stock.
Bailey said her organization is looking to do the same in Champaign County and wants to use the findings of their study to make the area more marketable to developers. She said that includes looking at what new housing options would work best in the county, whether that would be smaller single family homes or loft apartments in recently renovated buildings.
“One of the big things that we are looking at right now is what type of housing is in demand,” she said. “We are seeing more loft apartments in downtown Urbana for example. We want to continue that trend.”
Bill Bean, the mayor of Urbana, said his city is landlocked and there is not much land available to develop new single family homes. He said, instead, some property owners in downtown Urbana are turning the second and third stories of their buildings into loft apartments.
“Instead of growing out, we are growing up,” he said.
Bailey said in the city’s Monument Square, she estimates 10 loft apartments and says more are currently being developed.
However, the city’s last major housing development was completed in the early 2000s. The subdivision known as Parmore Estates, on the eastern edge of the city, consisted of 90 single family lots as well as two condo sections of 20 lots each, according to its developer Bill Parker, who is the president of Par-Mee Development Corp.
He is currently working on a subdivision called Park Place of Urbana. The first phase of that project will consist of 13 small, patio/single family homes along Powell Avenue, which is expected to be completed in the next two years, Parker said.
Bean said, however, land for new housing developments can be hard to find in the city. He said it depends on whether property owners are interested in selling their property or are working with a developer.
“In order for us to grow, we need to get developers to look at us. We need to let them know what we have to offer,” he said.
Bean said he believes the housing study will be a good tool for future development not only in Urbana but also in the county as a whole.
Greg Kimball, the mayor of Mechanicsburg, said his village has similar housing problems such as the lack of available land for new developments and a limited number of developers operating in the area. He said there is also a fair number of nuisance properties in the village.
Kimball said he hopes the study will help them work around those issues as the village hopes to reassess its housing stock while working to increase property values.
Contact this reporter at 937- 328-0355 or email Hasan.Abdul-Karim@cmg.com.
BY THE NUMBERS
Estimated population of Champaign County in 2018, according to U.S. Census Bureau
Number of cities and villages in Champaign County that will be examined as part of the housing study
The cost of the housing study, which is expected to be completed in January
The Springfield News-Sun has provided extensive coverage of housing and employment issues in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on wages, job opportunities and a recent housing study conducted in Springfield.
October is National Manufacturing Month
“We are fortunate to have such diversity of manufacturing in Champaign County,” said Marcia Bailey, CEP Director. “We want our young people to understand the career choices that exist in manufacturing and having this opportunity helps them gain first-hand knowledge. We have approximately 3,700 people working in manufacturing in our community and many companies are looking for skilled employees.”
Last year, the CEP, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, Urbana University, and manufacturers from around the area created the inaugural Champaign County Design Challenge. After a successful first year, the design challenge is returning. For the second year in a row, approximately 90 students from Graham, Mechanicsburg, Triad, Urbana, and West Liberty-Salem are participating.
The student teams were challenged to design a mousetrap race car within a series of criteria and constraints under the guidance of an industry mentor. Each school participating can have up to four teams with five students and is open to middle or high school students. For the challenge, the mousetrap car must include five simple machines and four wheels with the goal of the car going 20 feet. The teams cannot purchase or 3D print materials.
The mentors for the teams are Steven Brandeberry from JWP, Zack Zizzo and Stephen Oser from Orbis, Mike Wagner from Navistar, Colin Turcu, Hayden Gephart, and Ethan Hess from KTH, Jeff Helman from Rosewood Machine and Tool, Jacob Schmitt from Ultra-Met, Dan Yohey from Rittal, Tyler Bumbalough from the Urbana City Engineering division, and Steve McCall from Champaign County Engineer.
“The goal of the design challenge is to expose students to local manufacturers, interact with professionals, and use their creativity to complete a project,” said Allison Koch, Ohio Hi-Point Satellite Supervisor. “The groups are being judged on their collaboration and their ability to explain their successes and challenges.”
The teams compete at their school district and the winning team from each school district advance to the countylevel competition held at Urbana University on November 1. All participants are invited to listen to the finalists present each team’s design to the judges.
During the event, students are also able to participate in a tradeshow with local manufacturers.
“Design thinking happens at the intersection of art and science. Designers direct our lifestyle, create our products, and shape the environments where we live, work, and play,” said Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President and CEO of Urbana University. “Urbana University is proud to host the Champaign County Design Challenge event for young designers in our region.”
The Champaign County Design Challenge trophy is currently housed at last year’s winning school, Triad High School.
For more information about manufacturing programs for students, please visit www.ohiohipoint.com or www.urbana.edu.
More people confident enough to start looking for jobs, expert says.
By Hasan Karim, Springfield News-Sun Staff Writer
ONLY IN THE NEWS-SUN
State figures showed the unemployment rates in Clark and Champaign counties went up in July as the local labor force continues to grow.
The unemployment rate increased to 4.9% in Clark County, up from 4.2% in June. The increase comes as the county’s labor force has seen steady growth over recent months, according to state data released by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
In Champaign County, unemployment rose to 4.3%, which is up from the 3.6% reported in June. Both counties experienced a downward trend in unemployment numbers starting at the beginning of the year. However, that rate increased slightly in May and has continued to increase into July.
“This is one of those cases in which the unemployment rate went up for the right reasons,”said Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm.
LaFayette said the labor force in Clark County is larger than what is usually projected for July, leading to an increase in the unemployment rate. Though unemployment tends to go up between the summer months, more people are either currently employed or looking for work compared to the same period last year, he added.
Clark County’s labor force at the end of July had 64,200 people, according to data collected by the Ohio DJFS.
Those numbers showed a decrease of 100 people in the county’s labor force compared to the previous month.
However, there is usually a dip of around 700 people in the county’s labor force between June and July, LaFayette said, noting that a decrease of only 100 people shows that more people are confident enough to start looking for jobs.
He added that those numbers do not take into account seasonal patterns that affect labor and unemployment trends. Those factors can include seasonal employment, major holidays and school schedules.
Taking into account those seasonal factors would bring Clark County’s unemployment rate closer to 4.4 percent in July, compared to a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 percent reported in June.
LaFayette said factoring in seasonal patterns also brings Clark County’s labor force for July to 64,100 people and that is actually an increase of 600 compared to June’s seasonally adjusted numbers. He said the labor force compared to this time last year is up 1.3 percent.
“For Clark County, this is very good given that the population is stagnant,” LaFayette said. Clark County’s population was estimated to be 134,585 people last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Amy Donahoe, director of workforce development with the Chamber of Greater Springfield, said local companies are taking a more aggressive approach in attracting people that are not in the workforce. She said that includes raising starting wages as well as tweaking benefit packages.
“We have seen record low unemployment numbers in the past year,” Donahoe said.
“Employers have responded to that. They want to make sure they are attracting and retaining good talent.”
Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment in July was 4 percent and remained the same from June, according to the Ohio DJFS. The national rate was 3.7 percent in July, also unchanged from June.
In Champaign County, the labor force decreased by 100 from June and had 20,100 people last month. The number of those reported as employed also went down by 100, according to the most recent information from the Ohio D JFS.
Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, said despite a dip in the labor force, there is not a shortage of job openings in the county, especially in manufacturing and healthcare.
“There are still plenty of job opportunities here. We are still seeing pretty consistent openings,” Bailey said.
She said local manufacturer Rittal has recently posted a notice that it will be conducting open interviews on Tuesday. The company is looking to hire assembly operators, machine operators, welders and paint loader/unloaders, according to the notice.
Bailey said the starting hourly wages for those positions range from $13.40 to $16, according to information provided by Rittal.
Contact this reporter at 937- 328-0355 or email Hasan.Abdul-Karim@coxinc.com.
The Springfield News-Sun will continue to provide unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties and has covered recent stories relating to wage increases, the latest housing numbers and job growth.
JOBLESS RATES - 2019