by Joshua Keeran, Urbana Daily Citizen
Navistar, one of the area’s largest employers, revealed plans for its new Urbana distribution center during a groundbreaking ceremony held Thursday at the Urbana Industrial Park on the city’s south side.
At an estimated price tag of $12 million, the 355,000-square-foot facility at 1155 Phoenix Drive is under construction and expected to be completed by Dec. 1. Once up and running, the facility is expected to house inventory for Navistar that could total up to $16 million.
“It’s a very exciting time for Navistar here in the great state of Ohio,” said Edward Franklin, senior manager of supply chain operations at Navistar.
Earlier this year, Franklin said, the company started production on a second assembly line at its Springfield assembly plant as part of an agreement with General Motors in which Navistar is manufacturing cutaway models of GM’s G Van.
“This facility will help us sustain our new relationship with GM as well as give us the opportunity to sustain our product portfolio growth in the future,” he said. “I’m very excited to get all our material and be able to consolidate it into one place here in Urbana.”
Located on property owned by Damewood Enterprises Limited, the new distribution center is being built by Dublin Building Systems. Once complete, the facility will be leased by Damewood Enterprises to Navistar.
Rich Irelan, vice president of sales and marketing for Dublin Building Systems, said his company is “committed to hitting” the target completion date of Dec. 1, and he said meeting such a deadline is obtainable thanks to the city’s willingness to see the project through.
“It’s so refreshing to work in the city of Urbana,” Irelan said. “We are going to promote more business in Urbana, Ohio, for sure.”
Speaking on behalf of Damewood Enterprises, Brad Damewood said, “We are very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this project,” and he added it wouldn’t have been a possibility without the help of Marcia Bailey (Champaign Economic Partnership executive director) and the support of a tax abatement agreement by Urbana City Council and Urbana City Schools Board of Education.
“I’m sure Navistar had plenty of options for build-to-suit locations as well as exciting buildings,” he said. “One of the things that allowed Urbana to be the site chosen was the tax abatement.”
The agreed upon Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) agreement grants Damewood Enterprises a 10-year, 100 percent tax exemption of real property tax.
Impact on local community
While Bailey acknowledged the new distribution center will result in at least a $28 million investment into the area ($12 million into the building and $16 million in inventory), she said the biggest winner in the deal is the local community from a jobs standpoint.
“We were able to save 114 jobs here in our community that could have went to another community,” she said. “We are looking at another 40 coming in either from another facility or new employment all together.”
In the CRA agreement, Navistar stated its plans with the new facility are to retain the 114 employees currently employed at its ODW Logistics facility (located at 1030 S. Edgewood Ave.), transfer 27 full-time jobs from Xenia to Urbana, and create 13 new full-time jobs.
Bailey said the distribution center will have a payroll of nearly $7 million.
Urbana Mayor Bill Bean added the city has been able to build great relationships over the years that has led to the numerous construction projects underway from two new school buildings to new commercial properties like the Navistar distribution center and a new medical center for Marysville-based Memorial Health.
“We have a lot of things going on. A lot of growth, and this (Navistar facility) is part of it,” he said. “Without good partners, we couldn’t do this.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.