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.
Key development projects
Thanks to economic development investments by private businesses working with the CEP, Urbana – for the first time ever – ranked 41st in the Site Selection magazine’s 2017 list of top U.S. micropolitan communities.
Recent successes include the new Navistar distribution center, Memorial Health’s medical building, expansion of Weidmann Electrical Technology, opening of Nutrien Ag Solutions, Sutphen Corporation’s new Service, Parts and Refurbishment Center, expansion of Old Souls Farms hydroponic operations, expansion of Advanced Technology Products and purchase of the former Robert Rothschild Farm property.
Champaign County manufacturing jobs have grown from under 3,000 jobs in 2013 to nearly 4,000 in 2018.
Major projects for 2019 include:
The CEP is partnering with schools and businesses in numerous ways to help make sure Champaign County has the skilled workforce required by new and expanding businesses.
Results of these partnerships include:
For more information, call the CEP at 937-653-7200 or browse CEPOhio.com.
Makes good use of vacant building
Employers in Clark & Champaign counties have jobs to fill now
Amy Donahoe, director of Workforce Development with the Chamber of Greater Springfield, said the falling unemployment rate is an example of Clark County continuing to see businesses hire and grow.
“We are seeing individuals becoming employed right away when businesses are hiring,”
Donahoe said. “There is no reason for people not be working right now.”
Donahoe said the Chamber is focusing to tap into the workforce within Clark County to keep residents working close to home.
“We have a lot of people living here but working outside of the area,” Donahoe said. “We are working on keeping people here and helping people find work closer to home.”
Bill LaFayette, an economist and owner of Regionomics, a Columbus-based economics and workforce consulting firm, said the unemployment rate for Clark County is good.
LaFayette said that Ohio DJFS does not seasonally adjust, or account for seasonal patterns that include summer hiring, major holiday hiring and school schedules.
State and national figures are adjusted for those factors.
Statewide, Ohio’s unemployment rate dipped slightly to 4.4 percent, down 0.2 percent from February, according to the OJFS. The nationwide unemployment rate remained steady at 3.8 percent, continuing its downward trend.
“If we are looking at seasonally adjusted numbers, unemployment still went down from 4.2 in February, to 4 in March,” LaFayette said about Clark County’s unemployment numbers.
In Champaign County, the unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in March, down from 3.8 percent in February.
Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, said the county’s unemployment numbers are, “great news.”
“These numbers are great, but there is a flip side to this story,” Bailey said. “The other side is that there are still jobs that need to be filled and companies that are hiring right now.”
Companies across Champaign County are looking to fill positions right now, Bailey said.
“We want people to understand that there are jobs available and we encourage them to come and see us,” Bailey said. “We want to help everyone find their career.”
Contact this reporter at 937- 328-0329 or email Riley. Newton@coxinc.com.
March: 4.1 percent
February: 4.6 percent
January: 5.4 percent
March: 3.4 percent
February: 3.8 percent
January: 4.5 percent
Computer numerical control (CNC) machining is a manufacturing process in which pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery.
Clark State’s current machines are 3-axis machines. The new 5-axis machine will allow for additional fourth and fifth axis machining capabilities. The part can basically be approached from all directions simultaneously and machined in one operation.
According to JobsOhio, Clark State is the first college or university in the state of Ohio to offer training on a 5-axis CNC machine.
“5-axis CNC is a technical skill that is needed in many manufacturing facilities throughout our region,” said Aimee Belanger-Haas, dean of business and applied technologies for Clark State. “Having this technology at Clark State helps us further our mission for student and community success by providing this training to our manufacturing students, and the ability to offer the advanced manufacturing lab for customized training for current employees."
Having a machine at Clark State means employers can trust that the local community college is providing workers for the future in Clark County, Chilman said.
“It really opens up an opportunity to acquire new employees from our current student body but to also bring in their current employees for retraining or up training to help them advance within their own company,” he said.
The need for manufacturing education continues to expand, Director of Workforce and Business Solutions Lesli Beavers said.
“We are all very aware of the need in Clark County in manufacturing,” she said, “We have a great manufacturing base here in Clark County and this will also to help revitalize our community. We want to be able to attract new employers and fill that need for new employees and employers to grow.”
The corporation said it worked on 266 projects with companies committed to create a record 27,071 jobs, a rise of 19 percent over 2017, and a record $1.3 billion in new payroll, an increase of 23 percent year over year.
The 2018 results also include record capital investment of just over $9.6 billion, JobsOhio said in its 2018 annual report.
Sectors leading to the largest number of jobs included logistics and distribution, advanced manufacturing and health care industries.
Of the 266 projects, 73 percent involved small and middle-market enterprises, JobsOhio said.
2018 figures offered by JobsOhio:
“Our 2018 job creation, payroll and capital investment are the highest that our associates and partners have ever achieved,” JobsOhio Chairman Jim Boland said in a statement. “These strong results illustrate the commitment of JobsOhio and its statewide network to generate economic opportunities for Ohioans.”
The new report also notes perhaps the biggest bad news of the year: General Motors’ decision to end production of the Chevrolet Cruze at its Lordstown plant, impacting about 1,500 workers.
“GM’s decision has generated significant attention at the local, state and national levels,” the report said. “JobsOhio has maintained a strong dialogue with GM’s senior team, including meetings with the company’s CEO, and continues to explore opportunities for retaining jobs for the Lordstown workers.”
The report also notes Crown Equipment’s decision to expand in New Bremen, as well as Axo Gen Inc.’s choice to invest some $5 million in a Vandalia Scholz Industrial Park location as a production site.
“These results reflect our culture of collaboration and client focus that makes Ohio more attractive for companies,” JobsOhio President John Minor also said in a release. “Along with our partners, JobsOhio has a strong foundation to address important business issues, and we are well-positioned for the future.”
In December, Ernst & Young ranked Ohio first for job creation in business investment projects for the second year in a row.
Nearly $30 million in new projects were started in 2017 in Springfield, down to $16.8 million in 2018. But much of the investment and construction on permits spilled over into the next year as major projects can take years to complete.
“Just because you see the number and the valuation down in 2018 does not mean necessarily that the economy was down,” said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development. “It just means the timing may have been in 2017 when the permits were filed.”
In 2017, the city pulled 519 permits, but it pulled nearly triple that number at 1,533 last year, despite the sharp decline in total valuation. During a healthy economy, there’s typically an uptick in activity, but it doesn’t always translate to dollar value, he said.
“Depending on the types of expansion , they may have a little bit less valuation necessarily than a new construction, s o I think it’s really the type of investment versus the volume,” Hobbs said.
Instead of high dollar new construction, 2018 was full of several smaller permits like remodels at Walmart and Kroger, leading to the large number of permits despite lower values.
The economy saw strong growth in 2017 and many businesses began investing money in the Miami Valley, including Clark and Champaign counties.
“They had the extra funding or whatever was needed, so they took advantage of it in that year,” Jene Gaver, Springfield’s chief building official.
Several big projects boosted values across the region, including Wittenberg’s $40 million indoor athletic facility and Topre’s $55 million expansion in Springfield.
In Champaign County, more than $70 million in permits were filed in 2017 including Navistar’s $12 million manufacturing warehouse, a new Memorial Health facility, renovations on a new ColePak building and additions at KTH Parts Industries and Weidmann Electrical Technology, said Marcia Bailey, economic development director for the Champaign Economic Partnership.
In 2018, Champaign’s permits dropped to $2.6 million in valuation.
“It’s just that the big projects did happen in ‘17 with openings in ‘18 and then for ‘18 we didn’t really have major projects going on, but I think we’re going to see more permits this year again,” said Bailey.
Looking into 2019
Springfield leaders echoed Bailey’s optimism, with Gaver saying he expects 2019 to outpace 2017. In 2018. the permits were smaller sprinkler, fire alarm and mechanical permits that followed the major construction values of 2017.
“It’s just timing, honestly. I project that in 2019 we’re going to see an uptick because there are a couple of bigger projects that are continuing into 2019,” Hobbs said.
Last year, Topre announced plans of another $73 million expansion. Along with the growth comes 138,000 square feet and 204 jobs at the Champion City Business Park. Topre has had back-to-back expansions since it first built in the city in late 2016.
Silfex also plans to finish its $223 million facility in 2019. When complete, the project will add 400 total jobs to Springfield.
A major housing development near the Tuttle Road Walmart could bring 226 new homes as well. Construction could begin as early as March or April on the 37 acres with homes meant to handle increased hiring in the region.
Other projects include a second phase to senior housing Community Gardens and a $5.5 million parking garage with funds from the state, county and city.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on . I mean , it’s just we’re constantly busy,” Gaver said.
Local investors in Champaign County are working on a proposal for a new Cobblestone hotel in Urbana. Mercy Hospital in Urbana is also continuing facade changes.
A potential downtown project could turn an Urbana building, along with North and South Elementary schools, into affordable senior housing. If that project develops, it could redevelop a longtime eyesore downtown, find a new use for two of the school district’s aging buildings and provide more senior housing options for residents.
“If we see this hotel start being built , we’re hoping that’s going to spur more activity along that same corridor,” Bailey said.
How development impacts Springfield
Higher permit values are a good thing because they often represent more real estate taxes. Many of the big values that received incentives are about to expire, so the counties could pull more taxes, Bailey said. But it’s also a trade off because some new projects could also receive incentives.
“If you’ve got these high permits, usually it means you’ve got manufacturing coming in,” Gaver said. “When manufacturing comes in, it means more people; more people means more housing, so it just kind of trickles down.”
When commercial is up, usually residential is down and vice versa, but Hobbs said he expects both the be up in 2019 when hundreds of jobs could come to Springfield.
“The more money that’s generated here in the city of Springfield , the more people to come in here and spend money , the more places will be open up and survive,” Gaver said.
Even though permit values didn’t have high dollar values in 2018, it doesn’t mean the companies weren’t expanding and improving, Hobbs said.
“There is investment that goes on in companies that may not actually require the point of a permit , but that doesn’t mean that they’re not investing in , you know , infrastructure or they’re not investing in equipment or those kinds of things,” he said.
Clark County, which has its own building department had $14.6 million invested in permits last year, down slightly from the $15 million in 2017.
Parts of the planned $43 million Speedway expansion could also show up 2019 permits, boosting those values. The expansion could bring 200 new full-time workers over the next few years.
“There’s no science still , you know, it’s just like doing your budget , you kind of guess what’s coming in ,” Gaver said.
Local permit values
The Springfield News-Sun is committed to covering business and economic development in Clark and Champaign counties.