“What makes a STEM school? The answer lies in having a holistic approach to a rigorous culture, design learning and innovative practices that are integrated across classrooms and buildings,” said David Burns of Battelle, a private nonprofit applied science and technology development company headquartered in Columbus.
Graham’s staff worked for the past year to define and refine practices to address their application, according to GMS Assistant Principal Nick Guidera, who led the application team. “We’re excited to recognize our faculty and staff for their hard work. That’s what this is all about,” he said.
The ODE Committee remarked that leadership, faculty practices and student activities are all parts of the equation when they evaluate the programming impact on students and the local community.
Koennecke drew attention to the quality of his staff. “When people try to define academic excellence, we look, in addition to report grades and individual awards, at true cultural measures. This is about who we are, and the state called Graham’s elementary and middle schools role models. We are preparing future-ready citizens here for in-demand careers. Our culture is all about empowering learners. This is proof for anyone who wants to see quality education at work.”
Marilyn Stinson, Amanda Croson, Emily Shreve, Chad Miller, Chad Lensman and others worked with Guidera and Graham Coordinators Joe Jude and Adam Mowery to prep for the state’s rigorous and lengthy application process. “We could not be successful without our strategic partners, both local and across Ohio, for helping us with key activities annually that demonstrate problem-based learning,” said Graham Coordinator Adam Mowery.
Teachers will have an opportunity to celebrate soon as ODE will officially unveil STEM banners for both buildings – the only schools with such designations in the county – prior to the start of next school year. According to Koennecke, “These awards represent an opportunity to honor our staff and students both for so much more than raising the academic standing here. They are reminders that we are living our vision of success today, prepared for tomorrow, and creating a personalized, rigorous, and fun culture here or all.”
The Ohio Department of Education has designated only 55 schools as STEM leaders in the state since the early 2000s. ODE Elementary Coordinator Joe Jude emphasized the elite nature of these awards. “People who are excellent teachers lead a culture of exploration in their curriculum, take advantage of leadership opportunities and spend more time planning STEM than others. Graham has proven that it consistently demonstrates excellence in these areas.”
Although the designations do not carry any financial grants or dollars, Koennecke said he is excited to have Graham recognized for the efforts made to provide today’s students a “future ready” education.
The “future ready” slogan has been part of Graham’s mission for the past couple of years as the school has reshaped some of its approaches to modern education on a daily basis. The district has an earned income tax levy on the May 8 ballot.
The lab, which was delivered to Marion Technical College in Union County late last year, will be on display throughout much of the day at Triad during the job fair. The project’s primary goal is to provide a mobile training area for manufacturing firms throughout the region, Bailey said. In Champaign County, companies like KTH Parts Industries, Inc., Rittal and Bundy Baking Solutions contributed to the project, Bailey said.
“It’s meant to be shared with those employers for incumbent worker training,” Bailey said.
But it can also be used to give local students hands-on experience to encourage them to take a closer look at careers in the industry.
Technical colleges in Central Ohio submitted a proposal for a state grant several years ago to fund a portion of the project, said Robert Haas, chief strategy officer at MTC. The partners combined that grant and various other funding sources to pay for the lab.
One reason it took several years to get the lab running was manufacturers throughout the region were asked to provide input on the kinds of equipment the lab should offer. Instead of training equipment, it was clear the companies wanted real equipment typically used in a manufacturing environment, he said.
The lab includes a CNC milling machine, six control units at which students can learn to program the mill, room for nine students and an instructor and enough power to allow some electrical training. The training can be customized to a business’ needs.
“They tried to make it as broad as they could to cover different types of industries,” Bailey said. “The Hall company might not do robotic welding but they may have a need for CNC.”
Faculty from MTC will be able to provide the training, or companies with qualified staff can conduct the training on their own. Haas said the goal now is to make businesses more aware of the lab. He estimated it will be used for training about 80 percent of the time with the rest used to promote manufacturing careers for students.
“It’s meant to be an asset that can be used across the state, not just the Marion area,” Haas said.
The lab will be on hand at Triad most of the day on Tuesday. A job fair open to high school seniors in Champaign County will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the high school. A second job fair, open to the general public, will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the high school.
The Springfield News-Sun will continue to provide unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign Counties. For this story, the paper previewed a job fair scheduled at Triad High School and explained how a new mobile lab will be used to train local workers.
If you go:
What: Two job fairs at Triad High School
Where: 8099 Brush Lake Roa, Woodstock
What: A job fair open to high school seniors in Champaign County, followed by a separate job fair for area residents.
When: A job fair for local students will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the high school. A second job fair, open to the general public, will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the high school.
Despite that long history near Urbana, Chicago-based Glencoe Capital Management acquired the business last year and consolidated its operations with Cincinnati-based Clearbrook Farms, a fruit-based food manufacturer Glencoe acquired in 2016. Local officials are hoping to find a new buyer for the former Robert Rothschild Farm property quickly and said the site is ideal for several potential uses.
Officials at Glencoe did not return a call seeking comment this week.
The Champaign Economic Partnership is working with Gary Fisher, a commercial real estate agent from Cincinnati, to market the property, said Marcia Bailey, executive director of the CEP. Local realtors are also making contacts with prospective buyers, and the Dayton Development Coalition is also making the listing available, she said.
“It’s food-grade processing, so that’s always a big plus,” Bailey said. “Some of the site selections that come through, they want food-grade manufacturing space. With the sewer line being down there from the city, that’s an extra advantage too.”
Local leaders made a significant investment several years ago to extend a sanitary sewer line to the business to allow for an expansion and keep Robert Rothschild Farm in Champaign County. The city of Urbana agreed to spend $160,000 from the city’s sanitary sewer fund to extend the sewer line to the business. The Champaign County commissioners also applied for a $160,000 Community Development Block Grant to pay for a portion of the project, while the company picked up the remaining $467,000 cost.
That project has paid dividends even though the company’s local operations are shutting down, Bailey said. She said Koenig Equipment, an agricultural equipment dealer has since tapped into the line.
Memorial Health is opening a new $9 million medical center at 1958 E. U.S. 36 and chose that site in part because of access to the sewer line as well, she said.
The Rothschild Farm property could be a good fit for a variety of uses including food manufacturing, vertical farming, craft brewing and other options, Fisher said. The area has a qualified labor force, the site has highway access at U.S. 36 and there’s room for expansion if necessary, he said.
A brochure promoting the site describes the property as a little more than 30 acres with a roughly 46,000 square-foot production facility and an area for retail, a restaurant or meeting space. The brochure also highlight’s Urbana’s access to several key population centers within 300 to 600 miles.
The sale price listed on the brochure is about $2.9 million. Fisher said the site could be ideal for a business like vertical farming, in which produce is grown on trays stacked vertically in an indoor, climate-controlled environment.
“It’s a unique property from a lot of perspectives,” he said. “Its history is unique, and at its root it’s really a food production facility. Under the broader category of industrial properties, those types of facilities are a higher level because they’re food facilities, they’re inspected and they’re built to higher standards because of their unique use handling food. They’re relatively rare compared to your run-of-the-mill industrial building.”
The Springfield News-Sun covers major employers in Clark and Champaign counties, including Navistar and Community Mercy Health Partners.
By the numbers:
30.2 acres — Size of available property
45,792 square feet — Size of food-grade production facility
9,073 square feet — Size of retail, restaurant and meeting space
Source: SVN-Ricore Investment Management, Inc.
“The zoning right now is for manufacturing,” Bailey said. “But we’re looking at whether it would make better sense on the east side to make it more of a mixed use environment because there would be space for retail, offices and manufacturing combined if that was the need.”
Once complete, Bailey said the complicated project will remove a property that was a nuisance to the city and local first responders. Once redeveloped, the goal is to use the property to attract more jobs and investment to the city. The abandoned Q3 site at Miami and Beech streets has been an eyesore in Urbana for years, creating concerns about safety, vandalism and drug use on the property. In 2015, a fire destroyed much of the building.
City officials took control of the property under the conditions that overdue taxes were cleared off the books and funding was secured to perform necessary demolition and clean up contamination at the site. The process to acquire the site and secure the necessary funding was a lengthy process, but once the work was underway, the project moved forward fairly quickly, said Kerry Brugger, director of administration for Urbana.
“The bulk of the demolition, the buildings that are going to come down, for the most part are down,” Brugger said. “They’re working on slab removal, and they’ll finish up and (do) soil remediation that needs to be completed.”
There is work left to do on the existing buildings on the site that will remain there. The city contracted with True Inspection Services, an Urbana-based developer, to clean up and redevelop the site. Other partners included Honeywell, with whom the city contracted to clean soil on the rear west side of the site.
Once the work is complete, the city will seek a Covenant Not to Sue from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. That designation will show the site is cleaned up and in good condition, a key to allowing the city to eventually transfer the property.
True Inspection Services will initially take over part of the property once the work is complete and work with the CEP to find candidates to occupy the site. The company is also renovating the remaining buildings for office space or warehouse space by next year.
“We anticipate the cleanup and remediation part of the project should be done in the next eight weeks,” said Joe Timm, vice president for True Inspection Services.
There are prospective tenants for the property, Timm said, but he declined to disclose them because the project is still months from completion. He said the company had previous experience renovating the former Buckles Motors dealership and converting it to office space and warehousing. Finishing the Q3 project will provide several benefits to the city, he said.
“It will add some jobs to the community and increase the tax base,” Timm said. “It will definitely be good for the community, along with getting rid of an eyesore.”
By Matt Sanctis - Springfield News-Sun Staff Writer
Nursing and truck driving are the most in demand jobs in the region that includes Clark and Champaign counties, with jobs in retail also near the top of the list, according to a state report.
The report from OhioMeansJobs provides a snapshot of online job ads posted in a one-month period for six different Ohio regions. It provides an indication of the most in-demand occupations and a list of regional employers doing most of the hiring in a given area.
The results were not a surprise, said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. She said many companies, both locally and nationally, continue to struggle to find and retain qualified truck drivers.
Clark State Community College has a program to train drivers for the industry, she said, and the chamber is working with partners to find better ways to promote in-demand jobs in the region.
“We do recognize there is a need there and Clark State has a great program,” Donahoe said. “We also need to figure out how to engage the schools so they can help educate students about it becoming an option for them. If parents understand what kinds of opportunities there are and what kind of pay is involved, it’s a good place for some graduates to start.”
The report showed a total of 16,658 online job openings from Jan. 14 to Feb. 13 this year for a region that includes, Clark, Champaign, Montgomery, Greene and Miami counties.That’s an increase of about 700 job postings compared to the same time last year, and an increase of about 1,300 postings from the previous reporting period.
Kettering Medical Center was the highest number of job ads in the region with just more than 1,000 ads, the report says. Mercy Health, the biggest employer in Springfield, was also near the top of the list with 131 postings.
The report shows a little less than half the ads posted, about 44 percent, require at least an Associate’s degree. About 30 percent required a high school diploma or GED only and about 23 percent required a Bachelor’s degree.
In Champaign County, local officials have developed Community Job Connect, an online job site specifically for Champaign County businesses and residents. Many of the ads posted on that site include construction and manufacturing positions.
“Every employer is using every mechanism available to them to find employees,” said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign Economic Partnership.
With a low unemployment rate, Donahoe said industries such as retail will likely continue to see a gap between the number of applicants and available jobs as workers look for higher-paying work.
“When other businesses are hiring, you see a lot of people from retail go into manufacturing for instance,” Donahoe said of entry-level positions. “The pay could be a little more at times and sometimes it’s just equal. But there are also greater opportunities for upward mobility.”
The Springfield News-Sun provides award-winning coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories tracking local unemployment rates and expansions at Topre America and Silfex.
By the numbers:
16,665 — Online job ads from Jan. 14 to Feb. 13 in the region that include Clark and Champaign counties
1,305 — Increase in job ads from previous reporting period
722 — Increase in job ads compared to same time last year
44.5 percent — Jobs requiring an Associate’s degree
Source: Ohio Means Jobs
No plans have been finalized, Bailey said. But local economic development leaders plan to meet with potential local investors as early as next month.
The study estimated the project could generate between 15 and 20 new jobs, depending on the size of the hotel, if it’s built.
“This meeting is just to generate the interest of other community leadership,” Bailey said.
Champaign County has rooms available for overnight stays, including a downtown bed and breakfast and businesses like the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites and the Logan Lodge Motel. But the county hasn’t had a new hotel in years.
Elton Cultice, airport manager at Grimes Field in Urbana, has told the News-Sun he often reserves rooms in Springfield for events at the airport because of the few options available in Champaign County. That means less business for local restaurants and other businesses in Champaign County.
The CEP hired a consultant from Core Distinction Group to conduct the feasibility study. Staff from that company couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. The study was based on interviews with area businesses and local attractions that typically draw visitors overnight, as well as traffic studies from 2011 and 2014 provided by the CEP.
That included staff from local tourist attractions like the Ohio Caverns. The study also consulted with other entities that might draw residents for overnight stays or business purposes, including Urbana University and a small number of manufacturing firms.
The total tourism impact in Champaign County resulted in more than $47 million in sales and enables the employment of more than 350 people in the county, according to a 2013 study by Tourism Economics.
Along with as many as 70 to 80 rooms, the Core Distinction Group’s report also recommended the potential hotel provide meeting areas with space for about 50 guests, a pool and a workout area. In the end though, all those decisions, including how many rooms are included in the final plans, will be determined by any investors who push the project forward, Bailey said.
The hotel would be built within Urbana city limits, she said, but it’s too early to discuss any specific locations for the property.
If and when the project might move forward is still unclear, Bailey said. But if a decision to build the hotel is finalized this year, she said it’s likely the project could ramp up as early as 2019.
Bailey said the hotel would likely be a name-brand chain.
Melanie Ziegler, a spokeswoman for the company, said the project is on schedule and no delays are anticipated.
The medical group will also host a groundbreaking open house event and ceremony at Memorial Hospital in Marysville as part of a separate project. The company is undergoing a $50 million expansion and renovation of Memorial Hospital.
That project involves construction of two buildings, both an inpatient pavilion and an outpatient pavilion on the main campus at 500 London Ave. in Marysville.