The Board of Directors for the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau wishes to announce the selection of Lydia Hess as the new Executive Director, due to the recent resignation of Sandi Arnold after her 5 years of service in the position.
Lydia was born and raised outside of St. Paris, Ohio and she has been with the chamber since May 2014. She understands the dynamics of our community, the strong bonds between families and neighbors, and the deeply instilled values that make Champaign County a great place to live, work and play. She has a deep commitment to our local communities. Lydia has held a variety of positions that have helped to develop her management style, organizational and project management skills. Over the years, Lydia has continued to build lasting relationships with community members, leaders and elected officials while building on the diversity of our community. The board has great confidence for Lydia continuing the positive business trends that have developed for Champaign County over the last 5 years, as a community let us continue this confidence.
Additionally, we would encourage the local community to visit the Chamber’s new website, it has been updated to promote our locally owned businesses and tourism. Lydia has been instrumental in partnering with locally owned Berry Digital Solutions, LLC to help develop the content for the New Champaign County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau Website www.champaignohio.com. Berry Digital Solutions, LLC focuses on building websites, social media management and digital advertising for local businesses. They currently service about 50 local small businesses across Champaign, Logan and Union Counties. Some of Berry digital’s other local successes include website development for CEPOhio.com, GloriaTheatre.com, and MyWestLiberty.com just to name a few.
This year’s Chamber of Commerce Dinner scheduled for April 28. Our dinner this year will be a great time to congratulate Lydia, network, and view our new website created by Berry Digital. Owners of Berry Digital Solutions LLC, will be available to demo the website and provide education to local business on how they can better use the Chambers resource to grow their business.
Lastly, if you are not a member of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, we would encourage you to take a look and consider joining. There are many exciting things happening locally that can help us all to build a stronger community. Please stop by the Chamber and join us in congratulating Lydia in her new role.
The law firm of Wagner, Maurice & Davidson Co., LPA announces that Attorney Dana M. Zook has been made partner of the firm. Zook joined the firm as an associate in 2015.
Zook earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s of Science degree in molecular biology from Bowling Green State University. After the completion of the Master’s program at Bowling Green, Zook received his Juris Doctor degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law where he was the Vice President of the Federalist Society and the Staff Editor of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. During his time in law school, Zook also worked in Intellectual Property with the Ohio State University Technology Communication Office. His work focused on patents for pharmaceutical, agricultural and biochemical Technologies. Zook served an internship with the Glimcher Realty Trust of Columbus, now known as W.P. Glimcher, working in the areas of real estate and commercial transactions.
Upon graduation from law school and admission to the Ohio State Bar, he was employed as a government contracts compliance attorney by Materion Brush Inc., a Toledo area defense contractor, and manufacturer of advanced aerospace components.
Zook is a licensed Title Insurance Agent and is President of the Advocate Title Agency, Inc., the firm’s title company. Zook is a member of the Champaign County Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, and is a Board member of the Champaign Economic Partnership.
Information provided by Wagner, Maurice & Davidson Co., L.P.A
On Thursday, Jan. 5, at 1 p.m., the City of Urbana Community Development Office and the Champaign Economic Partnership will host a stakeholder meeting with downtown property owners, downtown business owners, and other interested parties. This meeting will be an opportunity to determine the feasibility and interest in applying for CDBG Downtown Revitalization Program funding through the Ohio Development Services Agency. Furthermore, this meeting will be held in the fire training room on the second floor of the Urbana Municipal Building, 205 S. Main St.
This grant program is competitive statewide, and projects funded through the program are designed to improve central business districts through targeted investment in facade improvements, remediation of building code violations and/or investment in streetscapes or other public infrastructure.
At the present time, no specific projects have been identified that could benefit from this program. However, this meeting will be opportunity for all stakeholders to gauge interest in the program and to seek input on the feasibility and suitability of making an application to this program in 2017 or in the future.
Please plan to attend and participate in this forum. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Doug Crabill, community development manager for the City of Urbana, by calling 652-4305, or Marcia Bailey, economic development director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, by calling 653-7200.
City of Urbana Community Development Manager;
Economic Development Director of the Champaign Economic Partnership
The Champaign Economic Partnership website, launched about a year ago, will be updated early next year with more resources to help businesses locate and expand in Champaign County, said CEP Director Marcia Bailey. The CEP was designated Champaign County’s economic development agency in July 2015.
The CEP website, CEPOhio.com, will expand listings of available commercial land and buildings, information on economic development incentives and the CEP’s “playbook,” which is currently in development.
The playbook, expected to be completed early next year, will serve business developers as a resource guide through the process of beginning or expanding a business in Champaign County. The playbook will include information about the local and state resources critical to business success as well as contact information for these resources.
“As the economic development agency serving all of Champaign County, the CEP serves as the starting point for local business development,” Bailey said. “We will offer businesses our economic development playbook as an easy-to-use resource to help smooth the planning process and prevent missing any key steps along the way.”
CEP newsletter published
More details about the CEP playbook and other economic development news can be found in the CEP’s recently published fall newsletter, CEP Developments, the third quarterly edition of the publication, which launched in spring 2016. The newsletter can be accessed on the “news” tab of CEPOhio.com, and. visitors can subscribe to receive the newsletter by email.
Among other news covered in the latest edition: New local businesses; Manufacturing Day activities coordinated by the CEP and local manufacturers and schools to present high school students career opportunities in manufacturing; the CEP’s and local manufacturers’ display at the Champaign County Fair; and the Inventors Camp at the Champaign Family YMCA, where local manufacturers provided campers a taste of manufacturing.
Manufacturing careers have been a key focus of the CEP, as manufacturers locally and across the country are having difficulty filling skilled job openings.
Several workforce training initiatives have resulted from CEP’s partnership with manufacturers and local schools:
Ohio Hi-Point Career Center’s advanced manufacturing program at Triad Local Schools and other Hi-Point satellite programs at Champaign County schools
New manufacturing and engineering programs at Clark State Community College
Urbana University looking at new workforce training opportunities
Development of training to help the existing workforce update skills to remain competitive
Job shadowing, internships and factory tours to expose local students to manufacturing careers
“Workforce initiatives like these are vital to current employers and will help us attract new businesses to Champaign County,” Bailey said. “Businesses are more likely to move to communities with a well-trained workforce.”
Ohio economic development newsletter
Champaign County and the CEP received prominent coverage in the November edition of the Ohio Economic Development Association’s Dateline newsletter. The article featured the continuing growth of the county’s largest employer, KTH Parts Industries, and the CEP’s role in helping KTH gain approval of a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) application.
The CRA agreement grants KTH a 50 percent, 15-year real estate tax exemption on the company’s latest construction project, a 128,950-square-foot expansion expected to cost $6.7 million. As part of the agreement, KTH also pledges to add 20 new full-time jobs.
The company has experienced massive growth since opening in 1985. KTH started with 195 full-time associates in a 239,122-square-foot facility and now employs 914 full-time permanent and 223 temporary associates, who make automobile subassemblies in a 1,110,448-square-foot complex.
The Champaign Economic Partnership is offering Skype as an option for out-of-town and out-of-state business representatives so they can avoid travel for at least some meetings with local officials as they work toward establishing or expanding a business in Champaign County.
Marcia Bailey, CEP Director, said she recently used Skype to facilitate a meeting for entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a local business. They had difficulty fitting multiple meetings in their schedule due to the 4-hour roundtrip to Urbana.
The CEP office is set up to accommodate Skype conferencing, in a quiet, confidential environment, according to information from the organization.
City to ask county board for rights to property
By Joshua Keeran - email@example.com, Urbana Daily Citizen
There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for one of the biggest thorns in the side of the city after Urbana City Council authorized administration to accept ownership of the former Q3/JMC Inc. property, pending Champaign County Board of Revision approval, now that a developer has come forward willing to redevelop the site.
The 605 Miami St. property, which has been vacant since 2008 and contains several buildings including a large factory partially destroyed by fire last year, also has an issue with contaminated groundwater on the west side of the property.
“We believe pretty confidently we have an opportunity on the table for a developer, yet to be named, that’s interested in taking the property and developing it and expanding on it,” Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said. “The caveat is we have to take possession of it in order to work with Honeywell and the Ohio EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to get it cleaned up.”
While Brugger added the development agreement is in the process of being finalized, the city’s primary responsibility will be to help clean up the property in order to obtain a “clean bill of health” from the EPA. The majority of the cleanup costs, he said, will be covered by Honeywell, who became liable for the western portion of the property where the environmental concerns are after acquiring the site from Grimes Aerospace years ago.
During the cleanup process, any grants awarded to those efforts would go directly to the developer, who will be “driving and coordinating” the project, Brugger said.
Prior to council waiving the three-reading rule and passing the measure to seek ownership of the property by a 5-0 vote (council members Doug Hoffman and Eugene Fields were absent), Brugger summed up the impact the property has had on the entire Urbana community over the past several years.
“We are at a point where we are going to have to kind of control our own destiny and make this right for the community,” he said. “It’s an eyesore, and it’s a public nuisance.
“It’s really a safety concern for not only citizens, but also our own workforce (police and fire),” Brugger added. “We are fortunate to this point that no one has gotten hurt.”
With council’s blessing in hand, administration plans to present its case for ownership – free of back taxes – to the county Board of Revision during a special meeting set for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at the office of the Champaign County commissioners, 1512 S. U.S. Route 68, suite A100.
“Hopefully by the end of the year or early next year, we can have the property transferred once (the board) starts the process,” Brugger said.
Progress comes with a price
According to Doug Crabill, community development manager, the city has been working on the Q3/JMC Redevelopment Project since 2011 when a Phase II Environment Assessment was ordered on the approximately 20-acre property. The assessment was completed in 2013 and funded through a Clean Ohio grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency.
Numbers presented by administration show the city has used to date $265,818.89 in grant funding toward the project. Since 2012, the city has also paid out $96,909 for a variety of work and services (legal, engineering, surveying, etc.) associated with the Miami Street property.
“We have quite an investment of time, effort, and an ongoing requirement because it’s in our sandbox,” Brugger said. “I think if we take possession of it, get it cleaned up, and get it back into productive use, our investment is not lost. If we push away from the table and let it sit down there, our investment is lost. We have an opportunity for the long term to recoup our investment and get (the property) back into productive use.”
Based on the development agreement being ironed out between the city and the interested party, Brugger said, the city’s financial commitment over the anticipated three-year cleanup period is projected to be “somewhere just south of $350,000.”
He added the costs won’t all be “hard dollar costs” or involve purchase orders. Instead, the $350,000 figure includes in-kind services or work the city is able to perform on its own using city employees and equipment.
“I think it’s money well spent, money that we need to invest in ourselves or we are going to continue to fight something that is just a cancer in the community,” Brugger said. “We need to get rid of it.”
Once the three parties – city, developer and Honeywell – complete the cleanup process, the city will see not only an immediate return on some of the money spent, but also future tax dollars through an increased tax base along with a new water and sewer customer.
Brugger said the development agreement will include a selling price that the developer will pay the city in order to complete the property transfer once the EPA signs off on the cleanup.
As for job creation, Champaign Economic Partnership Executive Director Marcia Bailey informed council the developer has had some success already in marketing the site.
“They’ve already been approached by companies who want to start populating down there and getting it back to use,” she said.
The initial projection of jobs the development of the eastern portion of the property could bring to the city stands at about 50, Bailey added.
In other business:
• The Urbana Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 is accepting registration forms for its “The Giving Christmas Tree,” a program that provides Christmas presents to children in need within the city. Forms, which are due by Dec. 1, are available at police headquarters in the municipal building, 205 S. Main St.
• Council member Pat Thackery reminded residents that leaves should be raked to the edge of the curb, not into the street where they can end up in city gutters, backing up the storm water sewer system.
• The city will pick up leaves through Dec. 5, while the compost facility at 1261 Muzzy Road will remain open until at least Dec. 3.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.