By: Jenna Lawson, WHIO
View video of the announcement on WHIO's website
There were many points in the last five years that community partners thought ‘Legacy Place’ might never happen.
It took time to capture nearly $13 million in funding sources, including historic tax credits – not to mention delays due to the pandemic. But on Thursday, partners announced the funds were released and they are able to move forward with the project. It’s possible construction could start within the next week.
‘Legacy Place’ transforms the Douglas Inn in downtown Urbana and two former elementary schools (North & South) into affordable senior housing. 51 units will be created for those 55 and older, with six of them being devoted to people with disabilities.
“It’s just a real renaissance for Urbana,” Mayor Bill Bean told News Center 7′s Jenna Lawson.
Duane Miller, with development company Flaherty & Collins and also president of F & C Legacy Place, said the project accomplishes two goals: turning three vacant properties into useful properties and filling the need for affordable senior housing in Urbana.
“I love to jump into the skin of a community that’s looking for help and looking for opportunities to spur on their own development,” he said.
The Douglas has been vacant since 2004 and has long been a large eyesore on the southwest corner of Monument Square. The building has somewhat deteriorated and was the target of multiple arson fires in 2019.
The former owner of the property, John Doss, has done work to stabilize the structure. The elementary schools, despite being about 100 years old, are in solid shape, partners said.
The timeline for the project will move quickly. Developers estimate about six months to complete both elementary schools and a little over a year to finish the Douglas. Partners are hopeful that the project will have a positive domino effect on other aspects of Urbana living including neighboring businesses and housing.
“We may see some of those seniors who may move in here and now their single family homes are available for a new families to move in,” said director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, Marcia Bailey.
Bailey added that this solution also preserves the history of all three buildings for the community to enjoy for decades to come. “Having these buildings standing as they are and being repurposed is a huge win for our community,” she said.
Other partners in the project include the City of Urbana, Urbana City Schools and Resident Supports and Services, Inc., which provides housing for seniors and adults with developmental disabilities.
To keep up with increasing orders, Rittal is recruiting 40 more assemblers, machine operators and welders to join its total Urbana workforce of more than 500, Love says.
In addition, Rittal recently invested more than $3 million in state-of-the-art equipment to form metal for IT enclosures.
News like this, during the pandemic, is very encouraging,” says CEP Director Marcia Bailey. “Champaign County is fortunate to have a diverse mix of businesses and employers like Rittal who are growing, planning for the future and providing new jobs for our community.”
Rittal is investing in current and future workforce needs, Love said. Here are three examples:
· Apprenticeships to develop engineers: Rittal, partnering with ApprenticeOhio and Clark State Community College, has three four-year apprentices – one in industrial engineering and two in maintenance engineering.
David Vanderveen, an assembler at Rittal for six years, is the industrial engineering apprentice. He was looking into returning to school for engineering when Rittal announced the apprenticeship. About Vanderveen, Love says: “He’s one of those hidden gems you have in your organization. He’s growing very quickly and showing great potential in his apprenticeship.”
Love adds, “Increasingly there is a drive for apprenticeships, as we have less people with technical backgrounds in the workplace. It’s a great way to grow our capability.” And it provides the Rittal apprentices the chance to advance their careers while being paid and avoiding debt from education.
Vanderveen is working under the mentorship of Rittal Industrial Manager Steve Butka, while studying online through Clark State. He will begin in-person labs at Clark State this fall.
· Partnership with TAC (The Abilities Connection): TAC, which serves and employs people with developmental or physical disabilities, has placed five associates who support Rittal’s industrial engineering team. They cut gaskets for IT racks and complete other tasks as needed.
Claus Wolf, Rittal’s Sourcing and Procurement Manager, said that the partnership has “helped us as a business when hiring for open positions is challenging. And it’s helped us to connect with the wider community and to provide purposeful work” for TAC associates.
· Partnership with University of Dayton: A team of business undergraduates completed their senior capstone project at Rittal, for which they won the University of Dayton’s 2020 Outstanding Operations Senior Team of the Year Award.
Wolf said he gave the team free rein to investigate ways to reorganize Rittal’s wood-based product supply chain, including pallets. “They found a vendor that saved us more than $100,000. They found a solution that we couldn’t even when we tried several times,” Wolf said. Rittal plans to continue the partnership with an eye on expanding its talent pool.
Champaign County’s largest employer, KTH is one of the largest Tier 1 automotive suppliers in the U.S., employing more than 1,100 associates in a 1.068-million-square-foot complex west of St. Paris. KTH makes underbody structural frame components for cars, with Honda its top customer.
KTH also has been busy on Sundays, hosting open interviews to fill 40 to 50 open production positions. Millice recently shared with the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP): “The availability of candidates to fill these positions is very limited. We have been advertising these positions by radio, social media and news publications.”
KTH is a Champion Level investor in the CEP, which is Champaign County’s economic development agency.
“Good news like this is very encouraging, especially during the pandemic,” says CEP Director Marcia Bailey. “In Champaign County we’re very fortunate to have a diverse mix of businesses and employers like KTH that are growing, looking to the future and providing new jobs for area residents.”
While keeping up with demand, KTH also has been closely following CDC guidelines to protect its workforce, Millice said. This includes:
“At KTH we pride ourselves on our dedicated workforce, which is one of the best in the industry, as we work through labor demand constraints and follow COVID safe practices,” Millice says.
Champaign County voters narrowly passed a five-year, 0.5-mill levy in April to build a new senior center on Patrick Avenue near Water Street. The current facility is located at the corner of Thompson and Walnut streets.
Passing with a 3,613-3,512 vote, the levy is expected to generate an estimated $458,000 a year, which Miller said will be used to repay a loan the senior center will acquire from Civista Bank. In 2019, the bank donated 2.2 acres behind its 601 Scioto St. location for a new senior center.
The senior center moved to its current site, a former church, in 1980. The senior center also owns and rents the house just south of the former church. Miller said these properties will be sold.
The new building and parking lot will offer many improvements, Miller and Barnhart said.
“There will be three times as much parking, at least 46 spaces,” Miller said.
The one-story 9,452-squarefoot structure, designed by Beasley Architecture & Design, will include larger pantry and kitchen areas, walk-in freezers, a large activity room, as well as game, meeting and conference rooms that will provide privacy when needed.
Members no longer will need to maneuver stairs and ramp, and carts of groceries no longer will need to be carefully guided up and down the ramp.
Barnhart said she looks forward to more pantry space and room to expand outreach services.
“We are always faced with a lack of space at our current center,” she said.
Both she and Miller said the need for senior center services will increase.
“Our senior population is growing tremendously in the county,” Miller said. “Right now, probably 23% of (the county’s) 40,000 are seniors.”
That includes diversifying as well as adding to available housing stock in the county, fostering more development of new homes and the redevelopment of old ones as well as preexisting buildings that can be converted to apartments and lofts.
One of the tasks of the housing consortium could be to look at existing zoning and rules in the county and what can be done to make them more conducive to current housing needs, said Marcia Bailey, the director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. That includes also focusing on multi-family housing options, instead of just on single family homes.
“We want development to occur where there is available or nearby infrastructure. We are an agricultural community and we want to be able to preserve agricultural land as well,” Bailey previously told the News-Sun.
A point she said they will continue to focus on.
Efforts to boost the local housing market were temporarily put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, Bailey said they are looking to hold conversations next month and hope to have the housing consortium up and running in the near future.
This follows a series of discussions held in the beginning of the year that went over some of the findings of the comprehensive housing study, which was conducted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
That organization, according to its website, “is focused on improving the communities of Ohio through growth strategies and research.
Bailey said that she wanted to continue having those conversations as housing is an issue that will not soon go away. She said that having available housing stock and looking at ways to grow the population is key to economic development in the county.
The News-Sun previously reported that lower housing stock, coupled with high demand has led to a continued stable market in the area even during the pandemic.
The study commissioned by the Champaign Economic Partnership looked at common housing challenges in the city of Urbana as well as the villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris. It also compared municipalities in the county to others in the state that are tackling similar problems such as having aging housing stock, a fair amount of blighted properties and limited land for new housing developments.
In Champaign County, it was noted that 75% of homes there were built before 1990, according to the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
Additionally, there has been a total of 324 permits filed in the county since 2010 for the construction of single family homes.
It was also found that about 80% of new home construction since 2010 has occurred outside municipal boundaries in the county.
“It can be within a township or another unincorporated territory,” said Maria Walliser-Wejebe, a research associate with the policy center, earlier this year.
The study cost about $40,000 and came from funds set aside by the Champaign County Commissioners that are to be used for economic development. In addition, the analysis offered a total of 22 recommendations that followed six main themes.
The recommendations fell into the categories of prioritizing down towns and main streets, ensuring that local governments are strong partners to development, protecting existing housing stock and preventing it from declining, having creative financing and funding strategies and maintaining affordability.
Small businesses in Ohio affected by COVID-19 can now apply for up to $2 million to assist with cash flow. Loan terms are available up to 30 years and loans will come with an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere.
How to apply for assistance
Simply click here to fill out and submit the online application on SBA’s website.
** Please note, businesses need to check “economic injury” so that the form works. Then it should work even with a city listed.
More about SBA Disaster Recovery Loans
SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to small businesses, agricultural cooperatives, aquaculture enterprises and nonprofits affected by disaster to help meet working capital needs or normal business operating expenses through the recovery period. Businesses are eligible for these loans regardless of whether or not they have suffered property damage. The maximum loan for any combination of property damage and/or economic injury is $2 million.
Below are links to a variety of additional disaster assistance information provided by SBA:
We’re here to help.
If you have questions or need assistance, pleased do not hestitate to contact us.
Executive Director, OSDC
All federal agencies are working together to protect public health, including the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA's top priority is to ensure Ohio small businesses – which total nearly 950,000 – can continue their contributions to the state’s economy, and our nation.
Small Business Administration (SBA) is working directly with Governor DeWine’s office to facilitate a disaster declaration from the SBA for businesses to be eligible for Economic Injury Disaster loans. To expedite this process, we need your help in disseminating the Disaster Loan Declaration Form for businesses to fill out. Once you have done so, please email the completed forms to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once that declaration is made and the SBA has confirmed it, the agency will be able to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million per small business to assist with economic recovery.
SBA Disaster Assistance Response to the Coronavirus HERE, Spanish version HERE
Please feel free to send out the attached handouts as well as the below links to disaster assistance:
The SBA will continue to support small businesses through this difficult time, and we urge them to visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus and follow @SBA_Columbus on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter for more updates.
We sincerely appreciate your help in this effort.
For detailed information on SBA programs for the coronavirus, visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus and for information on all federal programs, visit www.usa.gov/coronavirus or www.gobierno.usa.gov/coronavirus (en Español).