U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (Rep.-Urbana) saw economic and community development taking shape when he recently toured Urbana with Champaign Economic Partnership Director Marcia Bailey and five members of the CEP’s Board of Directors.
They visited four construction projects – Navistar’s 355,522-square-foot distribution center, Urbana City Schools’ new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school and high school, and Memorial Health’s new medical building – as well as Mercy Health Urbana Hospital, formerly Mercy Memorial Hospital, which is planning updates to facility and services.
Bailey was joined by CEP board members Kyle Hall, president of the Hall Company; Steve Hess, Champaign County commissioner; Evelyn Levino, chief of staff of Urbana University; Ron Salyer, president and chief executive officer of Pioneer Electric Cooperative; and Pat Thackery, Urbana city councilman and owner of Café Paradiso, Carmazzi’s, the Studio and Fine Arts Gallery, and Room 117.
“It’s great to see all the good things happening in Champaign County – the investment and job opportunities. It’s all good,” Jordan said.
At the Navistar site, Jordan spoke with Jerry and Brad Damewood of Damewood Enterprises, on whose property the warehouse is being built in the Urbana Industrial Park, at 915 Phoenix Drive.
The $12 million facility is expected to be completed by Dec. 1. Navistar will store up to $16 million in inventory in the warehouse to support contracts with General Motors at the Navistar assembly plant between Springfield and Urbana. The facility will retain 114 existing Navistar jobs. In addition, 27 jobs will be transferred from Xenia and 13 new full-time jobs will be created.
Urbana City Schools Superintendent Charles Thiel led the group through the district’s two building projects, along with representatives of general contractor Gilbane Building Company and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC), which administers the projects. The new schools are being funded 61 percent by state funds and 39 percent local.
The 180,000-square-foot pre-K through eighth grade school will have an enrollment of about 1,500 students when it opens in early 2019. Located on South U.S. Route 68, the school property is in the process of being annexed into the city of Urbana.
Thiel said that classes will begin in the new Urbana High School, on the site of the current high school on Washington Avenue, in the spring of 2018. Two portions of the existing building will remain after the project is completed: the iconic Castle building and the auditorium/gymnasium building.
Funding through OFCC does not pay for auditorium construction, but Thiel said the school’s auditorium underwent an extensive upgrade in 2001. He added that the floor below the auditorium could be used for a manufacturing lab to help with workforce development.
The new school, for about 500 students, is designed for flexibility in classroom layout to support project-based learning and use of the latest educational technology.
Thiel said the public is invited to tour the high school construction project Friday, Sept. 8, 5-6:30 p.m., before the Urbana-Greenville football game.
Urbana hospital preparing for upgrades
Mercy Memorial Hospital, founded in 1951, is undergoing more than a name change, to Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital. Jamie Houseman, the hospital’s president, said that Mercy Health, which is Ohio’s largest nonprofit health system, is providing capital funding to:
*Upgrade the hospital’s central sterile system to accommodate the addition in 2018 of a da Vinci® robotic surgery system. Houseman said this will expand the range of minimally invasive surgical procedures available locally to Champaign County residents, at Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital.
*Open a 10-bed geriatric psychiatric unit in a section of Mercy Health – McAuley Senior Living (formerly Mercy McAuley Center), which adjoins the hospital. The short-term inpatient treatment program is intended for individuals 55 and older. The secured unit will be ready year-end to accept patient referrals from a variety of sources. The program will provide short-term monitoring, medication adjustment and treatment of medically complicated conditions. Due to a lack of such facilities in the area, patients must often be transferred hours away for care, Houseman said.
Memorial Health Medical Building
Spence Fisher, executive vice president of Memorial Health, spoke with Jordan about Memorial Health’s $9 million 30,000-square-foot outpatient medical building under construction at the northwest corner of East U.S. Route 36 and North Dugan Road.
The facility, which will open mid-2018, will retain 16 existing jobs and create 12 new jobs. Memorial Primary Care, now at 900 Scioto St., Urbana, will move to the new facility. The practice, now with four primary care practitioners, will have room to recruit three more in the new location.
The medical building also will accommodate rotating medical specialists, urgent care, x-ray imaging, lab testing services, sports medicine, physical and occupational therapy, and a medical therapy clinic, where a clinical pharmacist and nurse practitioner will evaluate and counsel patients with complex, chronic conditions.
Submitted on behalf of the Champaign Economic Partnership.