Champaign County gets visitors, and soon they’ll have a place to stay, too.
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.
The CEP continually updates content displayed on the 11 monitors – one at each of the five Champaign County high schools; one each at Urbana University, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center and in the CEP’s office window in the center of Urbana’s downtown business district; and one each in the windows of three downtown businesses in Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris.
The project is being supported by Urbana University, Ohio Hi-Point, Dayton Power & Light, FASTLANE, Darby Dental Smiles, Urbana Dental Smiles, Berry Digital Solutions and Weidmann Electrical Technology, Inc.
CEP Director Marcia Bailey said the monitors help inform students, county residents and visitors about local economic and community development growth, job opportunities, and education and workforce training. The monitors, she added, complement CEP’s partnership with local schools and manufacturers to prepare students for local career opportunities. Job openings advertised on the monitors come from the CEP’s local job posting website, Community Job Connect.
“I’m a strong believer in the education-workforce ecosystem. And the CEP is leading the way to organizing education and employers, preparing talent to meet the needs of our employers,” Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President and CEO of Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, said.
The monitors are the ideal way to deliver the information, he adds. “Kids today are digitally wired and pay attention to what’s on the screen.”
Kelsey Webb, Ohio Hi-Point Director of Communications and Marketing, said, “We’re participating because this is completely in our wheelhouse to prepare students for career or college. We’re excited to help spread the message that there are great opportunities here for students.”
“At least 75 percent of economic development is retention – helping existing businesses succeed and possibly expand their operations to provide jobs and a tax base that improves our county’s quality of life,” says Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP).
That’s why she and the CEP Board of Trustees created a team that visits local businesses to learn more about them, including what’s working for them and what challenges they face in reaching their goals.
So far, the JOBS (Jobs, Opportunities, Buildings and Space) team has visited Honeywell Aerospace, Bundy Baking Solutions and the Hall Company. The JOBS team is available to visit any type of business – not just manufacturing. Businesses wanting a visit may call the CEP at 937-653-7200.
The CEP is a partnership of local government and business created in 2015 to promote economic development, workforce development and job retention and creation in Champaign County.
The JOBS team varies from one visit to the next, but generally consists of Bailey; a county commissioner; a city and/or village administrator; an education representative, from Urbana University, Clark State Community College and/or Ohio Hi-Point Career Center; and a workforce development representative, from Ohio Means Jobs Champaign County or the Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services.
During the visits, the team learns about each business:
· Their products, services, markets and history
· Local companies they do business with
· What they like about doing business in Champaign County
· What they think would make doing business easier
· Plans, such as expansion, new products or markets, and what they’ll need to make it happen, such as more land or building space, additional utility access, more employees or training for existing staff
“Our JOBS team visits enable us to see how the CEP and our partnerships with private businesses, local government, education, workforce development, and regional and state economic development agencies can boost local businesses,” Bailey says. “And our visits help businesses learn about the resources the CEP and our partners have to offer. They learn that we’re ready to help.”
She adds, “From these visits I’ve learned a lot about our local businesses. I’m impressed by the quality of the products they produce, the skill and technology that goes into making them and the high regard they’ve earned in markets across the country and around the globe.”
In the visits the businesses have cited as advantages good relationships with the city of Urbana, utilities and local suppliers; a relatively good cost of doing business; and the Grimes Field airport.
Challenges that they’ve cited include upcoming retirements and meeting current workforce needs, including machinists and entry-level positions. A need for more space to increase business capacity was also mentioned at one of the visits.
Ten monitors will be placed in public areas – one each at the five Champaign County high schools; in the villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris; Urbana University; and Ohio Hi-Point. The monitors will be installed beginning in late August. Content shown on the monitors will be generated by the CEP.
Urbana University and Ohio Hi-Point Career Center are providing funds to purchase the monitors and associated equipment, while DP&L and FASTLANE are assisting with funding for ongoing media service to broadcast content on the monitors.
CEP Director Marcia Bailey added that Berry Digital Solutions is helping the CEP manage the project and that Weidmann Electrical Technology Inc. funded the original monitor at the CEP.
The purpose, she said, is to inform students and other county residents about local career opportunities and education and training available to prepare students for the workforce “I’m a strong believer in the education-workforce ecosystem. And the CEP is leading the way to organizing education and employers, preparing talent to meet the needs of our employers,” said Christopher Washington, executive vice president and CEO of Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University.
The monitors are the ideal way to deliver the information, he adds.
“Kids today are digitally wired and pay attention to what’s on the screen.”
Kelsey Webb, Ohio Hi-Point director of communications and marketing, said, “We’re participating because this is completely in our wheelhouse to prepare students for career or college. We’re excited to help spread the message that there are great opportunities here for students.”
It’s been a little more than three years since Franklin University stepped in at the last minute and acquired Urbana University’s assets. But in that time, Washington, the executive vice president and provost, estimated Franklin has poured more than $15 million into Urbana’s facilities as part of a long-term plan to attract new students and shore up a campus that was on the verge of closing for good.
“I don’t think there’s a place you can see that we haven’t impacted with investments,” Washington said.
Officials from Franklin provided a two-page list of the improvements made since its acquisition of Urbana University in 2014. The improvements ranged from relatively small projects like removing tree stumps and repairing the grass soccer field to renovating the university’s physics and biology labs.
The improvements also included relocating the campus’ Johnny Appleseed Museum, developing a Graduate Services Office, ramping up wireless accessibility campus-wide and signing on with a new food service vendor.
Urbana University’s financial situation still isn’t in the black a few years after Franklin’s takeover, Washington said. But along with developing new academic programs and building better ties with local businesses, the improvements are part of a larger plan to drive up enrollment and make the campus a thriving part of the community, he said.
The university has always played an important role in the city and Champaign County, he said. But many people throughout the region still don’t realize Urbana is home to a private university with a history that dates back to 1850.
“Years from now, I would love it if everybody in the community believed it was a college town,” Washington said of Urbana.
Coming off probation
Urbana University had a long history in the city, but it has also faced financial challenges for years. Those problems became critical in 2014, when lean enrollment, a handful of failed business decisions and effects of the Great Recession meant Urbana couldn’t take on more debt to survive. At that time, the university nearly shut down entirely, until Franklin University, based in Columbus, stepped in.
A handful of local banks accepted millions of dollars in losses to wipe the debt clean, allowing the transaction to occur. As part of that deal, Urbana now functions as a division of Franklin but retains its name.
Local leaders have said saving Urbana University was critical because it employs more than 200 staff and faculty members and provides a potential pipeline of skilled workers for local businesses.
A 2017 economic impact study by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education estimated that Urbana University provided more than $60 million to the economies of Champaign and Logan counties for the 2015 to 2016 school year. That study considered the university’s impacts from operations, student spending in the community and capital investment.
Urbana had been under academic probation since November 2014. But that was wiped away in July last year when Franklin University received approval by the Higher Learning Commission to make Urbana University a branch campus.
Taking the Urbana campus under Franklin’s accreditation was a critical step as Franklin looks to develop new academic programs and provide better service to students, Washington said.
“There’s work to be done here and as we grow our goals are designed to create a sustainable university,” Washington said.
Boosting community ties
Washington said drawing more students to the university also means developing closer ties to alumni, providing more reasons for students to stay on campus and working more closely with local businesses to provide job options for students.
The university hosted its first-ever night football game last fall, an event that drew about 3,500 alumni and other guests to the campus. The university also hosted its spring game at night this year, and there are already plans to host additional night games this fall as one way to make the campus more entertaining for students and to develop better relationships with alumni, he said.
There are some signs that the work is paying dividends, Washington said. He noted the university received about 420 applications for new students last year, but that figure has about doubled to more than 800 applications for the upcoming academic year.
“To offer the programs we want to offer, we have to have a sufficient number of students to support those programs,” Washington said.
Another key, Washington said, is developing closer ties with area businesses. The university has developed a program called UrbanaWORKS, which will provide students with leadership skills while tying educational programs more closely to the needs of local businesses.
Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign Economic Partnership, said the university is making a more visible effort to work with local companies and determine what training is needed to match current demands. The CEP is the economic development agency for Champaign County.
She said Washington is part of a team developed to address the needs of local businesses. That group recently visited Honeywell Aerospace in Urbana and is scheduled to meet soon with Bundy Baking Solutions, a local manufacturer.
“They are intimately getting involved in the community,” Bailey said of Urbana University’s recent emphasis on local business.
The community is also embracing the campus more than may have been the case in the past, she said. Last year was the first year community members hosted a block party in downtown Urbana to welcome students to the campus at the start of the school year, and a similar event is scheduled for August.
“The university is making certain they’re a part of the community and the community is making certain they’re engaging the university with different events and activities too,” Bailey said.
[Read More at SpringfieldNewsSun.com]
By Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President of Urbana University
A 2017 economic impact study by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) reports that Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, increased the economy of Champaign and Logan Counties by $60.4 million over the course of the 2015-2016 academic year. The estimate, which is nearly double the $31.3 million estimated from the 2010-2011 fiscal year, includes the impact of operations, student spending and capital investment.
The nearly twofold growth in economic impact signals the important engine of growth that Urbana University has become for the region, through money spent in their local areas and through the education and employment of local workers.
As a private, four-year institution located in Urbana, Ohio, Urbana University enrolled nearly 4,000 students and directly employed 150 full- and part-time workers during the 2015-2016 academic year. The institution benefits Champaign and Clark Counties in a number of ways, principally by increasing the training and knowledge base of the area, but also through its expenditures, its employees, and its students.
The local economy receives benefits from Urbana University in three ways: through its operations, student spending, and capital expenditures. The direct spending for its operations affects the local economy as the institution and its employees purchase local goods and services. In turn, those local businesses and associated employees increase spending and buy local goods and services.
The total economic impact from Urbana University’s operations falls into two categories. The first category is the net economic impact of new money from outside of the two-county region that is spent within the local economy because of Urbana University. The second economic impact category is the retained economic impact, which results from spending of local students that may have moved elsewhere for education if it were not for Urbana University.
In addition to the economic impact it provides through salaries, Urbana University has helped raise the skills of the area’s workforce by educating potential workers. This elevated skillset in turn increases the supply of human capital in the region. In addition, by raising the region’s demand for human capital, Urbana University has helped local businesses create jobs for skilled workers.
This contribution is significant because regions with higher levels of human capital tend to be more innovative, have greater amounts of economic activity, and enjoy faster economic growth, and workers in these regions tend to be more productive and earn higher wages.
The 2017 SOCHE report displays the economic impact of Urbana University on the two-county Champaign and Clark County areas. The University increased economic output in the two-county region by nearly $60.4 million in fiscal year 2016 and led to approximately 5.6 million in total tax revenues, of which more than $757,000 accrued to local municipal and county governments.
SOCHE’s impact study illustrates the impact of Urbana University as an economic stimulant for the region. Through changing times and economic climates, Urbana University has continued to provide the quality training and education needed for individuals to better themselves, their careers and their lives. Through internships and other immersive work experiences, our students are connecting with in-demand industries and employers to advance our regional economy.
During fiscal year 2016, Urbana University spent $14.0 million on operations. Of this, approximately $6.7 million is attributable directly to the new money coming into the area due to Urbana University’s presence and $7.4 million is considered retained. This direct spending by the University from outside money generated a further $2.3 million in additional economic activity in Champaign and Clark Counties.
During the fiscal year 2016, Urbana University made capital expenditures. Urbana University made approximately $1.3 million in capital expenditures, of which $251,801 remained in the Champaign and Clark County economy, as many of the goods and services necessary for the capital purchases existed outside of the regional economy. This spending led to further local sales of $97,003, for a total impact on the two-county economy of approximately $349,000.
“Urbana University is an invaluable economic development partner in our county,” said Marcia Bailey, Champaign Economic Partnership, Economic Development Director “Their aggressive approach to developing collaborations has been a true differentiator in driving the regional economy.”
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, SOCHE is the trusted and recognized regional leader for higher collaboration, working with more than 20 colleges and universities to transform their communities and economies through the education, employment and engagement of nearly 150,000 students in southwest Ohio. For more information about SOCHE, visit http://www.soche.org/.
About Urbana University – A Branch Campus of Franklin University
Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, prepares students for successful and professional careers within a caring and supportive environment. Regionally well known for education and teacher preparation programs, Urbana was founded in 1850 and acquired by Franklin in 2014. Urbana’s 128-acre, residential campus nestled in heart of Ohio provides a background for students actively engaged in campus activities through 20 student-led academic, professional, performing arts, social and service organizations. Blue Knights athletics includes 17 NCAA Division II sports and three intercollegiate club sports. Urbana University is a division of Franklin University, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.