To further help support local businesses and organizations during the holiday season the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce is launching a “Keep the Cheer Here” fundraiser. Purchase an item from the Champaign County Visitors Bureau Online Gift Store and when checking out, simply fill in the name of the Champaign County business you would like to support. $10 for every item purchased will be sent to that organization or business and you get a nice, soft tee or item of your choice to represent Champaign County!
Several new designs have been added including “Home for the Holidays” that will only be available for a limited time. Access the store by going to https://ccvisitorsbureau.itemorder.com/sale
For more information contact the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce at 937-653-5764 or email email@example.com.
The Douglas Hotel and the former North and South Elementary Schools are part of a collective renovation project to save the historic buildings and transform them into affordable senior living options.
It all started with some local leaders reaching out to Duane Miller, the president of F&C Legacy Place - a branch of Flaherty & Collins Properties - and a developer who has dedicated much of his career to saving and renovating historical buildings across the country.
“I look for these kinds of historic projects,” says Indiana-based Miller. “It all started from a lead that there were some historic buildings that needed saving in Ohio.”
Conversations led to many meetings between Miller, Flaherty & Collins, the City of Urbana, the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP), Urbana City Schools' administration and board of education, and Resident Supports and Services, Inc. (RSSI), which is a local non-profit that provides housing for seniors and adults with developmental disabilities.
The 17 units that are being built within the Douglas Hotel weren’t enough to secure the funding Miller wanted for the project. So he began looking to include the former North and South Elementary buildings as well.
With another 24 housing units to be available between the two schools, Miller says the total of 51 units was more of the scale of what he was hoping for to get the project off the ground.
Though shutdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic caused some delays in processing paperwork and funding early this year, Miller says the community-focused group of supporters pushed forward. The project was able to secure $13 million in financing, including federal and state Historic Tax credits, low income housing credits, an Ohio Housing Finance Agency loan, and a construction loan.
“That’s really how this got pulled off,” Miller says. “This is totally a community effort – kudos to all those who were involved in helping.”
CEP Executive Director Marcia Bailey says she almost had to pinch herself when work officially started on the buildings because it was like a dream come true after so many years of collaboration and work to get the project started.
“Today, it looks like ‘ants’ in every building,” Bailey says. “There are construction crews in there, and you can see where they’re working from outside by building by the different lights on in different windows every day.”
Bailey says that though people driving through downtown Urbana won’t see much of a difference outside the building’s front, that behind the building is full of crews working hard to make all the updates to the interior.
“The Douglas Hotel was the anchor of the Southwest corner of downtown,” she says. “Some thought it should be torn down and others wanted to save it because of it’s history. This is the perfect mix of both; it will be revitalized into something new.
“The building finally is going to be use. It’s going to be a beautiful building again and not an eyesore with boarded up windows. Just that ambiance of what it’s going to look like, let alone the income that’s going to be generated in the downtown by the merchants – it’s going to be huge.”
With more updates to be done to the Douglas Hotel than to either school building, Miller says the plan is for renovations to the school to wrap up in May and for the Douglas living spaces to be ready by the end of 2021.
He says lease options will open about 90 days before each project’s completion.
One of the things both Bailey and Miller say is most exciting about the projects is the uniqueness that will be offered in each unit.
Because the buildings are pre-existing and historic, there won’t be any “cookie cutter” designs. Units will be different sizes with different layouts and designs.
And, some special historic features will be left in the buildings so the flavor of what makes them historic won’t be lost.
For example, many of the chalkboards in the school buildings will stay in place and be built into the new living units.
Also in the school buildings, the stages and gyms will remain as open community spaces where residents can dance, play bingo, or possibly even watch youth performances. Miller says he’s working with the Champaign Family YMCA to find possible programming and education opportunities.
“We want to build that community environment,” he says. “You want to create that family and that community feeling.”
Though Miller himself isn’t from Urbana, he wanted to ensure that the buildings stay meaningful and useful for people locally. He wants them to be a part of the community, and he says the investment from local individuals has been key to the entire project.
“To their credit, to their teams’ credit – not every community gets in and do what they do,” Miller says. “You need those ‘boots on the ground’ people who care and really get it. You can’t just pull this off just being a developer. You need to be a developer who plugs into the community and gets support – and that’s just what happened here.”
In addition, the Chamber will be releasing local gift guides to promote local businesses this holiday season. Follow along on the Chamber’s Facebook page or online at champaignohio.com for local gift ideas.
Shopping local is crucial to the economic success of our community and this year is even more important. Avoid large crowds and ensure your money stays in your community this season by shopping local
On November 14, 1935, 500 people, mostly rural residents, gathered in Piqua to celebrate the groundbreaking and erection of the first electric cooperative pole in the nation. That pole would go on to support 193 miles of power line and bring electricity to 700 rural farms with the help of Miami Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. The newly constructed lines served the three county cooperatives — Miami, Shelby and Champaign — which would merge six months later to become Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., a utility company owned by the people it served. It would be another six months after the initial pole setting that the first home, electrified by Pioneer, would see the lights come on.
“We are thankful to be celebrating 85 years of providing electric service to our area,” said Pioneer President and CEO Ron Salyer. “We have a deep appreciation for our membership and the strong trustees, leadership, and employees who have helped shaped Pioneer along the way.”
The formation of the electric cooperative ultimately made the rural way of life easier, from making daily tasks more efficient to simply having light when it would otherwise be dark. That innovative spirit is not only a part of the co-op’s past but continues to play a role in the way Pioneer operates today.
Pioneer was an early tester and adopter of the radio-controlled load management program as well as the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. The SCADA system, which monitors and controls field devices remotely, was implemented in 1987 and continues to be a valuable tool today. Consistently being on the progressive edge of technology, compared to other cooperatives, has provided Pioneer the opportunity to have input on software distributed to other cooperatives throughout the country.
Throughout the past 85 years, Pioneer has built a tradition of providing safe, high quality, and responsive service to nearly 17,000 members in its primary territory of Champaign, Miami, and Shelby counties, as well as portions of the eight surrounding counties. The cooperative is headquartered in Piqua and has a district facility in Urbana.
“Our mission has always been to provide safe, high quality, reliable electric service to our member-consumers,” said Salyer. “We continue to hold Pioneer to a high standard, which is what our members expect and deserve.”
Jobseekers! Save the date, Wednesday, November 18, 2020.
JobsOhio is excited to partner with Champaign and Clark Counties to connect with job-seekers with businesses that have immediate job openings!
Registration opens November 2, 2020. Register at : https://www.soche.org/vcf/
The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau invites all community members to celebrate with them at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner Meeting on Thursday, November 19th beginning at 12 PM. Due to COVID-19 this year’s meeting will be held virtually on Zoom and streamed live on the Chamber’s Facebook page. Executive Director Sara Neer explains, “This was a difficult decision for the Board of Directors to make, as the Annual meeting is always our biggest event of the year and our most successful fundraiser. Every year we look forward to making it a special evening to celebrate our community and our members. We held out as long as we could and made the call to go virtual this year. Our biggest priority is ensuring the safety and health of our members and to assist in the success of their businesses. We have all made incredible sacrifices this year and we want to do everything we can to keep businesses open and our economy moving.” An optional boxed lunch will be offered for $15 and can be picked up “drive thru style” at the Chamber the day of the event. The meeting will be about an hour long and will include a recap of the year, induction of the 2021 board of directors, and an awards presentation.
There is no cost to attend. Please register with the Chamber by calling 937-653-5764 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Once registered, you will be provided with a link to join the meeting.
Funds aimed to help small business hit by pandemic
“Our local economy has been negatively impacted with the Coronavirus and our small businesses are some of the hardest hit,” said Marcia Bailey CEP Economic Development Director. “These funds are an expense reimbursement grant and will help get the businesses through this difficult time."
To qualify for the grant program, businesses must:
Businesses that have received funding for expenses arising from the pandemic cannot submit the same expenses for reimbursement under the CARES Grant for Champaign County Small Businesses.
“We are so appreciative of our small businesses and although there is great uncertainty, Champaign County is hopeful that businesses receiving these grant funds will successfully persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic.” Bailey said.
Applications and grant guidelines are available at www.champaignworks.com/CARESGrantChampaignCounty beginning October 30, 2020. Application deadline is November 13, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Due to the short application period, we recommend you apply as soon as possible. In order to assist you, please send your questions to email@example.com.
Businesses are also encouraged to visit https://businesshelp.ohio.gov for additional assistance. Governor DeWine announced CARES Act funding through the State of Ohio for small business and others that have been impacted financially by the pandemic.