Guests at the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce’s December Lunch and Learn program learned about the role of the new Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP).
Marcia Bailey, economic development director of the CEP, explained that the organization, launched in July, is a public-private partnership authorized by the city of Urbana and the Champaign County commissioners as the county’s official economic development agency.
With the motto “working together for success,” the CEP brings together private businesses, the Champaign County Community Improvement Corporation and local government subdivisions – Champaign County, city of Urbana, villages and townships – to advance economic development and create jobs for local residents.
Private business drives agency
Bailey said that about 75 percent of the CEP’s 18-member board consists of local business representatives. The remainder of the positions are held by local government representatives on the county, city, village and township levels. Explaining this composition, she said, “we want private industry and business driving our board and economic development.”
Todd Michael, president of Michael Family Farms of Urbana, serves as CEP president; Andy Yoder, administrator of the village of North Lewisburg, as vice president; and Bill Heitman, vice president of Civista Bank in Urbana, as treasurer.
The CEP is funded by two public sponsors, Champaign County and the city of Urbana, and two private business sponsors, Pioneer Electric Cooperative and Dayton Power & Light. Security National Bank supports the CEP as an in-kind sponsor. The CEP is recruiting additional private sponsors.
Bailey added that the CEP also partners with the Chamber of Commerce, which provides services for existing local businesses.
Projects in the works
Bailey, who was economic development coordinator for the city of Urbana prior to the CEP’s formation, provided the Lunch and Learn attendees a look at the more than 20 economic development projects that the CEP is working on – and that involve at least 300 potential new jobs. These projects, identified by code names to protect confidentiality, involve businesses that have expressed interest in expanding their existing Champaign County operations or in establishing local facilities for the first time.
The CEP connects these businesses with available properties and resources essential to establishing a new business or growing an existing one. To help assure manufacturers of a qualified workforce, the CEP partners with manufacturers and educational institutions to develop training programs. An example of this is a new manufacturing skills program offered at Triad Local Schools by Ohio Hi-Point Career Center for fifth grade through high school.
Champaign County in a good location
Bailey shared statistics that indicate that manufacturing employment has grown by 900 jobs in Champaign County over the past three years, from 2,928 in 2013 to the current 3,832.
Champaign County is an attractive business location for a variety of reasons, Bailey said:
-A one-and-a-half-hour flight or less from 50 percent of the U.S. population
-Proximity to Interstates 70 and 75
-Grimes Field, which is classified as a Level 2 airport with a runway long enough to accommodate small corporate jets
Bailey invited the Lunch and Learn guests to learn more about the CEP by visiting the organization’s new website, cepohio.com.
The CEP recently held an open house attended by 75 people at its new offices, at 3 Monument Square in Urbana. The office is open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and may be called at 937-653-7200.