CEP and FASTLANE surveys to help manufacturers recruit, retain engineers


The Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) is partnering with FASTLANE to help Champaign County manufacturers recruit and retain engineers. The partnership created two online surveys to be completed in April – one by engineers employed by the manufacturers and the other by the companies’ human resource directors.

Survey results will be used to develop strategies to help strengthen the companies’ efforts to retain and recruit engineers and compete with urban-based manufacturers for talent.

“Engineers are critical to our local manufacturers’ operations and their ability to innovate and compete in the marketplace, grow their businesses and create new jobs,” Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, said.

CEP, in collaboration with FASTLANE, created the surveys to help rural manufacturers in Champaign County become more competitive and grow by understanding what will help them attract and retain engineers. FASTLANE, which is west central Ohio’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, is staffed by a group of engineers.

The surveys address a key problem Bailey discovered in meetings with the Champaign County Manufacturers Human Resources Council. Many manufacturers are having difficulty filling engineering positions. In addition, some local engineers are nearing retirement age.

The surveys have been created on the web-based platform Survey Monkey and can be completed in 15 minutes or less. Bailey will provide the links to both surveys to local human resource directors and encourage them and their engineers to participate.

All responses will be confidential. The results will be aggregated to guide development of engineer retention and recruitment strategies for Champaign County manufacturers. The cumulative results will be published on the CEP (CEPOhio.com) and FASTLANE (fastlane-mep.org) websites.

“The engineering retention surveys will provide needed insight that local manufacturing employers and community leaders can use to better understand which factors influence engineers to live, work and play in Champaign County,” Mary R. Miller, manufacturing growth specialist for FASTLANE and a mechanical engineer, said.

Angie Brunswick, human resources manager of ORBIS Corporation in Urbana, said, “We have a real need for engineers in the area. This will give us a better understanding how to recruit and retain engineers in the future. We are fortunate to have some great engineers. Our hope is that we get a better understanding of how to keep them.”

Jill O’Neal, human resource operations manager of WEIDMANN Electrical Technology Inc. and a member of the CEP Board of Directors said, “We also realize that over the next five to 10 years retirements will be taking place. This means more opportunity will be available in our community. This survey will help us prepare for the future workforce.”

She added that recruitment of paper, chemical, process and other specialized engineers needed by WEIDMANN can take up to several months. Only two of the company’s nine engineers are from or live in Champaign County. Most commute an hour or more to work.

“I’d love to see more local candidates who are interested in long-standing careers with our company,” O’Neal said. “We are lucky to have a local Mechanicsburg graduate with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering on our team. He has done an amazing job in the short time he has been with us. I hope that the survey will provide us with more data on what attracts engineers to Champaign County and what we can do to retain their talent.”

For more information, contact Bailey at 937-653-7200 or [email protected].


West central Ohio’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, FASTLANE is a team of specialized manufacturing and engineering consultants who accelerate manufacturing success. Located in the University of Dayton Research Institute, FASTLANE is a vital resource for manufacturers, linking to a vast network of expert engineers, scientists, manufacturers, suppliers and other professionals. FASTLANE advances innovation and drives growth through technology acceleration, continuous improvement, workforce development, supply chain optimization and sustainability.

About the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP)

The CEP is Champaign County’s designated economic development agency. Through a partnership of local government and private business, the CEP stimulates economic growth throughout Champaign County. As Champaign County’s Community Improvement Corporation, the CEP strengthens the county’s competitive position by facilitating expansion of existing businesses, attraction of new business, job creation and improved quality of life for the citizens of Champaign County.



Submitted story

Submitted by the Champaign Economic Partnership.

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