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.
The CEP hosted a breakfast and awards ceremony last week to review recent successes and recognize manufacturing firms for their efforts in Champaign County. So far this year, local firms have invested more than $80 million and added more than 100 new jobs, mostly through expansions, said Marcia Bailey, economic development director for the CEP.
Much of that success is the result of local companies working together to resolve common challenges, like training and worker retention, she said.
“For the manufacturing partnership we’ve created, we’re seeing the results of that,” Bailey said.
Several Champaign County companies announced expansions earlier this year. Most recently, Weidmann Electrical Technology Inc. said last month it will add about 2,600 square feet to its facility at 700 W. Court St. in Urbana. The company, which produces specialty insulation for transformers, will also add 20 new jobs and spend at least $500,000 in new equipment as part of an expansion valued at around $2.7 million.
Navistar also broke ground on a roughly $12 million project to build a new distribution center and add 40 new jobs in Champaign County. Auto parts manufacturers like KTH Parts Industries in St. Paris and Parker Trutec also announced significant investments and expansions in the past 12 months.
Area companies and the CEP have developed several programs to boost the county’s workforce, Bailey said, and there is some evidence that’s paying off. But she said it’s also clear there’s still more work to do.
Attendance at a camp hosted by the Champaign Family YMCA has tripled its attendance since it started three years ago, Bailey said. The Inventor’s Camp enlists local manufacturing firms to teach students about skilled trades.
Manufacturers also host a booth at the Champaign County Fair to make residents more aware of the products made in Champaign County. And the CEP worked with local companies to develop a website allowing local businesses to post jobs available within the county. Manufacturers have also increasingly sought to provide internships to area high school students to make them more aware of careers in the industry.
Information provided by the CEP shows that the efforts appear to be attracting more young workers. In 2015, only about 5 percent of workers in the industry in Champaign County were between 19 and 24 years old, Bailey said. That number was about 9 percent this year.
Still, attracting skilled workers remains a challenge, she said.
“There’s not a competitions for products,” she said of local companies. “But we need the workforce to get those products out.”
By the numbers:
3,832 — Manufacturing employees in Champaign County in 2015
3,725 — Manufacturing employees in Champaign County in 2016
4,029 — Manufacturing employees in Champaign County in 2017
$64,021 — Average earnings for manufacturing in 2017
By the numbers:
3,832 — Manufacturing employees in Champaign County in 2015
3,725 — Manufacturing employees in Champaign County in 2016
4,029 — Manufacturing employees in Champaign County in 2017
$64,021 — Average earnings for manufacturing in 2017
By Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen Staff Writer
A Fastlane survey of Champaign County manufacturing engineers and their employers reveal that more than 4,000 county residents are employed in manufacturing and that the average wage for county manufacturing employees is $64,000 a year.
This information was presented to around 30 representatives of area manufacturing companies and their allies in education and government who attended a breakfast hosted by the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) at the County Community Center on Wednesday.
According to the slideshow presented by county Economic Director Marcia Bailey, the purpose of the Manufacturing Human Resources Council is to provide education and awareness to the community and public schools regarding manufacturing opportunities in Champaign County.
"Our HR council started about 6 years ago, and we said this is what our goal was going to be, and we've stayed at this goal, and we're starting to see how much change actually has happened in the perception of what manufacturing is about," Bailey said. "That's what this is all about, changing that perception."
In the 3 years since we've joined the partnership, the excitement from the manufacturing industry in particular has been just overwhelming, and there's so much potential," said Todd Michael, president of the Champaign Economic Partnership. "It used to be that the goal was to bring in more manufacturing or more businesses, but it's just as important to have employees and to have educated employees. So it's chicken and the egg and we're trying to bring both simultaneously for good, steady, structured growth.
Mostly Men in Local Manufacturing Jobs
Bailey noted that the male-to-female ratio of employees is unbalanced, but that some area manufacturers like Sarica Manufacturing like to have female employees because of the intricate nature of the work and because female hands are smaller.
"Ninety percent of our engineers are males so we keep telling the young females you have a great opportunity in Champaign County to become engineers in manufacturing," she said. "We need more females in manufacturing. It's also important that the students understand that this is the income you can make as an engineer in manufacturing in Champaign County, $37 to almost $41 an hour, which is not chump change. We're trying to get as much of this out as possible and really appreciate Fastlane for gathering this information."
Within the last several years there has been an increase in workers ages 19-24 at county manufacturing companies, and Bailey said she hopes this number increases. Part of the CEP's outreach to area youth has included a YMCA camp called "Inventor's Workshop," in which area manufacturers lead children ages 6-12 in projects such as building Lego block towers and transistor radios.
Other outreach efforts include a booth at the Champaign County Fair and the annual Manufacturing Day event, held last Friday, in which high school students toured local manufacturing companies.
"Everything that's around as of today was made by someone, and it's just amazing to learn that," Bailey said.
Near the end of the breakfast, the county commissioners presented proclamations to several of the company representatives, thanking them for their service to the community.
"I just want to say thank you to all the companies and manufacturers and businesses that are represented here and those who might not have been able to make it," said Commissioner Steve Hess. "You guys are a big part of the engine that drives this county, so thank you for all your contributions to the community and all that you do. Keep up the good work."
Manufacturers opening doors to high school students Friday
By Gary Schenkel
Eight local manufacturing companies are opening their doors Friday to allow about 150 Champaign County high school students to observe modern, high-tech manufacturing in action.
The Champaign County Manufacturing Human Resources Council and the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) planned the tours in conjunction with the national observance of Manufacturing Day, sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
“The county school superintendents have been helpful providing us direction on what students would like to learn from Manufacturing Day,” Jill O’Neal, member of the Champaign County Manufacturing Human Resources Council and CEP board member, said. “We heard that students would like to see not just the manufacturing environment, but a chance to ask questions about particular jobs, pay ranges and skills or knowledge required.” O’Neal is human resources manager at WEIDMANN Electrical Technology in Urbana.
Between touring manufacturing facilities in the morning and afternoon, students will gather at the Urbana University Student Center from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. There they will visit trade show-style displays set up by the manufacturers and talk with company representatives. They’ll also have lunch provided by the university.
Marcia Bailey, CEP director, said that parents interested in learning more about manufacturing careers for their children may attend the session at Urbana University. “Or they can contact the local manufacturers to schedule a visit with their students for a more personalized experience,” she added.
Each student will tour two facilities, including the Hall Company, KTH Parts Industries Inc., ORBIS Corporation, Rittal, Rosewood Machine and Tool Company, Sarica Manufacturing, Ultra-met and WEIDMANN Electrical Technology. Bundy Baking Solutions will join the others with a display at the university.
Urbana University, Ohio Means Jobs, Clark State Community College, the CEP, FASTLANE (West Central Ohio’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership) and Community Job Connect, Champaign County’s new online job posting and search board, will also set up displays at the university.
About 150 students will participate from Graham, Mechanicsburg, Triad, Urbana and West Liberty-Salem high schools. Triad offers Ohio Hi-Point Career Center’s Advanced Manufacturing program.
Todd Bodey, who teaches Advanced Manufacturing at Triad, said the Manufacturing Day activities provide students a good introduction to manufacturing careers and technology. He added that a Manufacturing Day tour is what got Zack Zizzo, a 2017 Triad graduate, interested in manufacturing. “Zack toured ORBIS and became really interested in their injection molding processes.”
Zizzo is now interning at ORBIS, which is supporting his education in the two-year mechanical engineering technology program at Clark State Community College.
“I see students coming back with an interest in something, and the students see the enthusiasm people have for their jobs in manufacturing,” Bodey said. “I’m very pleased the manufacturers can accommodate this many students.”
Manufacturers to be honored
The CEP will honor local manufacturers at the Manufacturers Celebration Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, in the Champaign County Community Center auditorium, 1512 S. U.S. 68, Urbana.
“Manufacturing plays a significant role in strengthening our local economy and making Champaign County a better place to live and work,” Bailey said. Local manufacturers employ nearly 4,000.
“Through efforts like our Manufacturing Day tours and partnerships with local schools, we are preparing the next generation for manufacturing careers and ensuring the future success of local industry,” Bailey said.
Gary Schenkel is records manager of Champaign Economic Partnership.
The company is also boosting its payroll and spending at least $500,000 in new equipment as part of an expansion valued at around $2.7 million, said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign Economic Partnership.
Weidmann, a Swiss-based company, produces specialty insulation for transformers. The expansion is expected to be complete by March next year. The company currently has about 140 workers.
“We’re looking at increasing our capacity within the facility,” said Mark Hunter, plant controller at Weidmann. “Since we opened our doors in 2011, we’ve gone from initially 75 employees and we’re expected to be around 164. We’ve just grown so much in terms of our business and because of that to be able to maintain increased sales, we needed to add more space onto our facility.”
Documents filed with local government entities show the company will add 20 workers as part of the expansion, but the manufacturer hired four additional workers just before making the announcement, for a total of 24 workers, Hunter said. The new jobs will include a variety of position, from forklift operators to maintenance technicians, as well as line workers and a safety coordinator.
The company will add a roughly $500,000 piece of equipment used to cut the paper produced at the company, in addition to the expansion and new jobs, Hunter said.
The company’s current payroll is a little more than $9 million and it will add about $835,000 as part of the expansion, Bailey said.
Local school districts and the city of Urbana approved a Community Reinvestment Area agreement that will provide a 100-percent property tax abatement for 15 years for the addition to the facility, Bailey said. The company will continue to pay its full share of taxes on its existing payroll and property, but will receive an abatement for the expansion.
The city and Urbana school district will split income taxes from the additional payroll evenly, she said.
OhioMeansJobs Champaign County will also work with the company to provide training for the existing employees who need additional training to operate the new equipment, Bailey said.
The company’s growth has been a bright spot in Champaign County’s economy, Bailey said. Weidmann initially took a leap of faith and pledged to provide jobs for 75 workers when the business moved into the former Neenah Paper Inc. site on West Court Street.
Neenah had closed a paper mill at the site in 2007, leaving about 180 workers without jobs. The property was a brownfield site, she said, and Weidmann’s decision to invest in the property reopened a site that could have become an eyesore.
“They’ve doubled the expectation from when they first came,” Bailey said of the company’s growth since it opened in Urbana. “They’ve kept the integrity of the historic building and they’ve been a great asset in the neighborhood as well.”
Along with the Weidmann announcement, the city also reached an agreement with a local developer this month to clean up the former Q3 and Johnson Manufacturing site that’s been vacant since 2008. True Inspection Services, an Urbana-based developer, will clean up and redevelop the 20-acre site at Miami and Beech streets.
City leaders have said the redevelopment of that property is expected to take two years and may begin as soon as next month.
The Springfield News-Sun provides award-winning coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties, including stories tracking local unemployment rates and digging into expansion plans at major employers like Honda.
By the numbers
24 — Total new jobs to be added, including 4 recent hires
2,600 square feet — size of the expansion
$834,000 — New payroll to be added
$9M — Company’s current estimated payroll
Demolition and cleanup of the former Q3/JMC Inc. manufacturing site in Urbana is ready to begin – a key step toward preparing the abandoned property for new industrial development and job creation.
Urbana Director of Administration Kerry Brugger announced at Tuesday’s Urbana City Council meeting that an agreement has been finalized between the city of Urbana and Urbana-based developer True Inspection Services (TIS), which will direct redevelopment work of the 20-acre site at 605 Miami St. and 200 Beech St. The property, zoned for manufacturing, has been vacant since Q3/JMC ceased operations in 2008.
TIS has been awarded a JobsOhio Redevelopment Pilot Program reimbursable grant of $883,947 to help cover the cost of the two-year project, which will involve demolition, environmental remediation, asbestos abatement, removal and disposal of waste, and site preparation.
The city gained title to the abandoned property in May and is providing $348,435 in matching funds. TIS is contributing $116,145.
Through a separate agreement with the city, Honeywell International Inc. is responsible for cleaning up groundwater contamination in an approximately four-acre section on the west side of the property, which had been used by Grimes Aerospace’s Plastic Research Products business. Honeywell became liable for the cleanup, having acquired Grimes Aerospace.
Brugger said that the Honeywell cleanup is targeted to begin in October. Barry Couts, TIS founder and owner, said his company will soon begin advertising for bids for demolition and cleanup of the site.
Once cleanup is completed and meets Ohio Environmental Protection Agency VAP cleanup requirements, title to the property will transfer from the city to TIS, Brugger said. TIS will prepare the site for development by a new owner.
The Champaign Economic Partnership will work with TIS to market the property for reuse, Marcia Bailey, CEP director, said. “Having a 20-acre greenfield in Urbana that is zoned M-1, for industrial use, will be extremely advantageous for economic growth and job creation in our county.” She added that the CEP will use its established network of local, regional and state contacts to market the property to businesses seeking space to expand or establish operations.
Bringing the project to this point has required cooperation of many parties, Bailey said. These include the city, Honeywell, JobsOhio, the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC), TIS, the CEP and the Champaign County Board of Revision, which earlier this year approved transferring the property from the county to the city and directed the county auditor to cancel delinquent taxes on the property.
Bailey assisted with the private development agreement between the city and TIS. And last year on behalf of TIS, she wrote an application for the JobsOhio Site Redevelopment Pilot Program grant.
JobsOhio was encouraged by the number of community partners involved. “We want to see partners at the table,” said Kristi Clouse, executive director of operations for JobsOhio. “The community has to work together to help us market the site” to attract business development.
Using revitalization funds, JobsOhio created the Site Redevelopment Pilot Program to return properties in need of remediation to the commercial development market – and to help make up for a deficit of commercial properties ready for development and business expansion since recovery from the recession.
“Ohio didn’t have all the inventory we needed to attract job-creating companies,” she said. “Champaign County didn’t have available inventory for business development and was missing out on job-creation opportunities. And there was this site, right in Urbana, on U.S. 36, already with utilities on site. It has a lot of good attributes to it.
“We had multiple discussions with the city,” Clouse added. “The city has played a key part in the grant. This project has been a lot for the city to take on and not all cities would do this. But they recognized how important this site is for their community. They really stepped up to the plate.”
Sarah Custer, project manager at the Dayton Development Coalition, said, “Older industrial sites can present significant redevelopment challenges for communities, since they often need extensive remediation. JobsOhio’s Redevelopment Pilot Program will provide vital resources for the Q3/JMC property, allowing the community to plan for the site’s reuse and attract new users to bring new jobs and investment to the heart of Champaign County.”
“As a developer,” Barry Couts of TIS said, “you look at the end result of a development. This project will help add jobs. I want to bring development to the county and jobs to the community.”
A native of Urbana, Couts said, “I remember when this property was booming as Johnson Manufacturing. That’s another reason I want to see it developed. There’s a lot of history in it.”
Couts founded True Inspection Services in Springfield in 2007 and two years ago relocated to Urbana after redeveloping the vacant former Buckles Motors property at 871 S. Main St., Urbana, where TIS now operates.
Szklany says ORBIS will benefit from Zizzo’s internship. “We’ll have a new employee who has the skills we need to succeed and who understands our culture.” He adds, smiling, “and has new ideas to bring to the plant.”
Zizzo came to ORBIS endorsed by Todd Bodey, who teaches Ohio Hi-Point Career Center’s Advanced Manufacturing program, which began at Triad High School in 2015, at the start of Zizzo’s junior year.
Before going into education, Bodey worked for a variety of companies, including Honeywell Aerospace in Urbana, so he knows what manufacturers look for in employees.
Advanced manufacturing program
The Advanced Manufacturing program at Triad is a product of a manufacturing workforce partnership formed by the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP), Champaign County’s economic development agency. The CEP worked with local manufacturers to form the Champaign County Manufacturing Human Resources Council. Local schools have also been brought into the partnership to help find ways to prepare students for skilled jobs that manufacturers are having difficulty filling.
Debbie Wortman, Ohio Hi-Point’s satellite director, got involved in the partnership. She said that representatives of local manufacturers told her, “We really need to do something to create a more prepared workforce. This can’t wait.”
And that’s how the Triad Advanced Manufacturing program came to be.
Zizzo is the second Triad Advanced Manufacturing student to intern with a local manufacturer. Kaleb Kaylor interned at the Hall Company in Urbana in the summer of 2016, after graduating from Triad and before beginning studies at Wright State University.
Bodey said 52 students are enrolled this school year in the three courses offered in the Advanced Manufacturing program – Manufacturing Operations for first-year students, Computer Integrated Manufacturing for second-year students and CNC Technologies for third-year students. Next school year, the fourth year of the program, Robotics will be added to the curriculum. And the program includes introductory classes for middle school students.
Many Advanced Manufacturing students will go directly from high school to manufacturing jobs, while others like Zizzo and Kaylor will obtain additional training and education.
Champaign County’s manufacturing workforce partnership has been promoting manufacturing careers in additional ways that include:
Part of the challenge in preparing a new generation for manufacturing careers, Szklany said, is helping students and their parents “understand that modern manufacturing is a great place to build a career, and plants are driving innovation. We’ve got great, talented employees who are working with new kinds of technology all the time.”
“It’s not factory work,” adds Zizzo, who has been working in machine maintenance and programming CNC machines at ORBIS. And when he graduates from Clark State, he’ll have two career paths to choose from at ORBIS, Szklany said: preventive machine maintenance or engineering/project management.
Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, said that manufacturing jobs can provide a good living. “The Dayton Development Coalition just reported that annual manufacturing salaries in Champaign County are averaging $64,000 in the third quarter of 2017.”