More people confident enough to start looking for jobs, expert says.
By Hasan Karim, Springfield News-Sun Staff Writer
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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
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“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.
‘Legacy Place’ project in Urbana receives almost $1M in funding from state tax credit
The project, called Legacy Place, would create 51 housing units available to residents 55 and older.
“We are super excited, this was a big hurdle and achieving this credit is a really exciting achievement,” said Marica Bailey, Director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. “We are ready to move forward with this process.”
MORE: Plan might find new use for Douglas Hotel, longtime Urbana eyesore
While funding for the project has been secured, Bailey said, the project is still a work in progress.
“There is no start time,” Bailey said. “This project is still in the making, but this is a big step in the making.”
The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation office and the Ohio Development Services Agency. The credit is awarded to, “assist private developers in rehabilitating historic buildings in downtown and neighborhoods.”
“Partnering with communities and developers across Ohio, we’re preserving historic sites that make Ohio unique,” Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, said in a news release. “We’re creating new opportunities for small businesses and housing.”
The Legacy Place project is just one of 22 projects awarded the tax credit. In total, the Ohio Department of Services Agency awarded more than $28 million for the rehabilition of 49 historic buildings, according to the ODSA.
Under the Legacy Place project, the city of Urbana has agreed to take ownership of the two elementary school buildings and transfer them to the Champaign Economic Partnership. The CEP will then transfer the two buildings to Flaherty and Collins.
The next step in the Legacy Place project since receiving the credit, will be to work on transferring and finalizing property agreements, Bailey said.
“We are going to be meeting up and working through the fine details of the project and finalizing some of the purchasing agreements and stuff like that in the coming months,” Bailey said.
The former Douglas Hotel is privately owned by John Doss, who plans to work out a separate agreement with the company.
Doss said previously that he purchased the Douglas with plans to eventually restore it, although it’s been a slow process to track down funding and find a suitable project.
The former hotel has been vacant for more than a decade and city officials have said in the past they believe the building is an eyesore downtown. Turning the site into senior housing will encourage more residents to live downtown and create new opportunities for retailers, Bailey said.
“This is going to have a tremendous impact and the making of this has been an incredible effort,” Bailey said.
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$988,058: Total tax credit the Legacy Place project has received as a part of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit
51: Housing units for residents 55 and older the Legacy Place project will create
3: Total properties involved in the senior housing plan- 2 elementary schools and the Douglas Hotel
The Springfield News-Sun is committed to covering economic developments in Clark and Champaign counties.