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New sewer project keeps jobs in Champaign County

Rothschild Farm, the Urbana gourmet-food processing company, has pledged to stay and add jobs in return for help from the city, county and state in funding a sewer-line extension project.

Rothschild Farm’s operators were considering shutting down locally and moving operations to another state because they face a $1 million upgrade to the waste water treatment at their facility, 3143 E. U.S. 36.

“We stood to lose 50 or more jobs if we were not able to create this partnership and make this work,” Urbana’s economic development directer Marcia Bailey said.

The company employees 60-full-time workers and between 25 to 45 part-time employees throughout the year.

Rothschild’s owners now plan to add 25 full-time positions over the next three years that will pay around $30,000 a year, according to the company’s CFO Brad Orders.

Last year, Rothschild Farm learned it needed to hook into Urbana’s sewer lines or else be in violation of EPA clean water rules. But the lines stopped one and a half miles from the plant.

Rothschild executives approached the city administration to create a partnership to get the sewer line extended, so the company could stay in Ohio. City officials agreed and also got Champaign County’s support. The project’s total cost is expected to be around $900,000. Construction started Thursday.

Rothschild will pay just less than $600,000 for new water treatment equipment and to connect to the new sewer lines.

The county was able to get $126,000 through a CDBG grant and the city will cover the rest, about $270,000, Bailey said.

“It’s a textbook perfect example how the city and county can work together with the private sector private company to accomplish the three could not do on their own,” Champaign County Commissioner Steve Hess said.

Hess said he is among local residents who are proud to have the world-wide food manufacturer in town.

“It’s always amazing to me to travel around the world and see Rothschild’s products,” Hess said. “We were very happy we could help them stay.”

Hess, as well as Urbana Mayor Bill Bean, just presented to the private sector a new county-wide initiative to get businesses to donate toward economic development in the county.

Many of the questions companies had about contributing to the new Champaign Economic Partnership was what the new organization would do as far as job retention.

Hess Thursday cited this sewer-line extension as an example of some of the work the county is already doing.

“If you got jobs and you have an opportunity to keep them from going someplace else it’s a lot easier than trying to replace them,” Hess said.

After 30 years of production in Champaign County, Rothschild’s Farms operators are happy they are able to stay, said Brad Orders, Rothschild Farm’s CFO.

“We feel like we are a part of the community and really wanted that to continue and we believe that is part of the reason there was so much corporation and support from the city,” Orders said. “It’s a huge success story that the county, city collaboration results in jobs staying here in the county and Ohio.”

Construction will start in August and is expected to be completed in October, Bailey said.

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