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County works with villages to pitch sites

Cooperative approach will be faster, could lead to more jobs.

City and village officials are working more closely to gather information about commercial and industrial properties that could be used to attract new business to Champaign County.

The county regularly receives emails through a state website that provides site selection information to prospective businesses, said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for Urbana. By compiling data about sites in Champaign County, Bailey said local officials can more quickly determine whether a local property might fit a request from a prospective business.

Staff members in North Lewisburg, St. Paris and Mechanicsburg will also now have access to those emails, in which businesses search for available properties. That was not the case previously, Bailey said.

“That way, if there’s a location I’m not aware of in the three villages, they could contact me and let me know,” Bailey said

When a company is looking for a specific type of property, the county is notified through email, Bailey said.

The county is also receiving assistance from the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission, said Andy Yoder, village administrator for North Lewisburg.

Each village, as well as the city of Urbana, is working to produce color-coded maps that display available locations, along with zoning. They are also working with local utilities so the maps include items like sewer, natural gas, available electric and other items.

“It’s in the preliminary stages,” said April Huggins-Davis, village administrator for Mechanicsburg. “We’re still putting it together.”

Many of the requests local officials have seen from prospective businesses include specific details, sometimes including items like ceiling heights, land for future development and access to specific utilities.

“When they submit their requests, they’re looking for something very specific that they can move in right away and hit the ground running,” Yoder said.

By having extra eyes on the requests, Bailey said the county can respond more quickly to those requests when an available site appears to match the request.

“Essentially, it’s four sets of eyes looking at all these properties,” Bailey said.

Working more closely with the villages to find potential sites that may be attractive to businesses will benefit everyone in Champaign County, Bailey said.

“What’s good for the city is good for the county, and what’s good for the county is good for the city,” Bailey said.

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