Community leaders have known for some time that Champaign County needs more available housing options to attract new businesses – and their workforce – and to support growth of existing business.
Recommendations to help Champaign County provide the full range of current and future housing needs will be unveiled at a public meeting, 8:30 to 11 a.m., February 14, in the Champaign County Community Center Auditorium.
The recommendations are part of the Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis for Champaign County, developed by the Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) and commissioned by the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP).
CEP Director Marcia Bailey said that the housing market analysis will be shared first with local county, city, village and township officials before the public meeting.
“The February 14 public meeting is open to all citizens and will provide information of special interest to business leaders, developers, real estate professionals, builders, property owners, financial institutions and others interested in helping Champaign County thrive,” Bailey said.
She added that an evening session will be scheduled for late February or early March and additional public meetings will be announced to provide residents multiple opportunities to learn more about the study findings.
The GOPC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on helping improve Ohio communities through smart growth strategies and research. The GOPC regularly provides expert analyses to public, private and nonprofit leaders at the local, state and national level.
Bailey said that the study is designed to serve local leaders as a guide for making decisions that support a broad range of housing options for all segments of the population. And to attract new residents, including young families drawn by jobs and people looking for a quieter lifestyle within commuting distance of their jobs in metropolitan areas.
The study covers the county as a whole, as well as the four primary population centers, Urbana, Mechanicsburg, St. Paris and North Lewisburg.
The GOPC conducted the study with the guidance of steering and advisory committees composed of local government officials and representatives of financial institutions, developers, builders, property owners, real estate agents and business owners.
Examples of recommendations made in the study include:
The hike will begin at the trail head near the kiosk, 3975 Kiser Lake Road, St. Paris. For more information, contact Michelle Comer, the West District regional manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, at email@example.com or 937-537-6173.
“Every Whole Foods in Ohio carries our products,” he said. “It was a little tough to get into Champaign County, but we sell to Gordon’s FoodService and now they’re using us at several local restaurants. I know for sure that Lincoln & Main carries us now. There were some smaller restaurants that weren’t worth bringing a truck to, but when we started selling with Gordon’s that has allowed us to become the pride of the community, which is a little ironic, I guess.”
Snyder is now working with the Bom Group, of Holland, to design the new greenhouse. The previous two were designed by the Rough Brothers of Cincinnati, which supplied drawings and material, but Snyder said his team was able to build most of it. His father has experience as a general contractor, and they have an engineer on staff.
The two existing greenhouses are fully automated, with total climate control, an opening and closing roof, grow lights, fans, liquid CO2 for cooling and heat pipes.
The second greenhouse is built on a treadmill so that plants start out young on one end, move about five rows forward each day, and are ready to harvest by the time they reach the front row.
From there crops go to the packaging room for shipping the next day. Snyder said they originally shipped on the same day, but some food distributors needed the product temperature to cool more slowly for efficient delivery.
“This has been something I was always pulled toward,” he said. “I grew up in a suburb of Columbus, which is where I had my first garden, and we found this land available on line. I never went to college for agriculture.
We just did a lot of internet research, and none of us were afraid to ask questions. Ohio State has been really helpful, and we went out to Cornell to learn as much as we could before starting the farm.”
Snyder said Old Souls has 12 employees and he hopes to have a staff as large as 80 once the expansion is complete. Interested job seekers are invited to stop by the farm and fill out an application.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
Key development projects
Thanks to economic development investments by private businesses working with the CEP, Urbana – for the first time ever – ranked 41st in the Site Selection magazine’s 2017 list of top U.S. micropolitan communities.
Recent successes include the new Navistar distribution center, Memorial Health’s medical building, expansion of Weidmann Electrical Technology, opening of Nutrien Ag Solutions, Sutphen Corporation’s new Service, Parts and Refurbishment Center, expansion of Old Souls Farms hydroponic operations, expansion of Advanced Technology Products and purchase of the former Robert Rothschild Farm property.
Champaign County manufacturing jobs have grown from under 3,000 jobs in 2013 to nearly 4,000 in 2018.
Major projects for 2019 include:
The CEP is partnering with schools and businesses in numerous ways to help make sure Champaign County has the skilled workforce required by new and expanding businesses.
Results of these partnerships include:
For more information, call the CEP at 937-653-7200 or browse CEPOhio.com.
“There are communities where people struggle to access the health care they need. Mercy Health – St. Paris Family Medicine bridges the gap, connecting area residents directly to fundamental health services at a location convenient for them,” said Lee Syphus, Chief Operating Officer of Mercy Health Physicians – Springfield. “As a mission-based organization, we are proud to share our resources to help keep communities well.”
St. Paris Family Medicine will host a ribbon-cutting and open house noon-2 p.m. on Oct. 2. Visitors can meet Kennedy, tour the practice and learn about the services available there.
St. Paris Family Medicine will be open initially 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Wednesdays and 8 a.m.-noon on Fridays. The clinic hours will grow based on community need. For more information or to make an appointment, call 937-523-9816.
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.”
At previous meetings council discussed taking this action. Prior to approving this resolution, council unanimously approved a resolution to dissolve the village Community Improvement Corporation.
The resolution to join the CEP states the economic partnership will work with the village to develop and implement economic development, marketing, and outreach plans, represent the village as the economic development agency, serve as the enterprise zone manager and keep the village informed of the CEP's activities.
The resolution also states the CEP will receive an annual payment of $2,000 from the village starting in January 2019. The payment for 2018 will be prorated to a 6 month fee of $1,000.