Why a local community is called a top national site for economic development

April 29, 2018
A Weidmann Electrical Technology Corp. employee walks along the giant paper machine in the company’s Urbana factory. The company is one of several that are participating in the new Champaign Economic Partnership, which seeks to bring more jobs to the county and support local businesses. Bill Lackey/Staff

Urbana was included with several other Ohio cities in a list of top small cities that have drawn investment and jobs to their communities in the last year.

Urbana was tied for 41st on a list of top 100 micropolitan areas in a recent edition of Site Selection Magazine. Several other cities in the region also made the list, including Sidney, Bellefontaine, Greenville, Wapakoneta, Wilmington and Celina.

Citing the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, the magazine’s website describes micropolitans as having an urban core area of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000.

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“It’s the first time that I’ve ever known we’ve received this recognition,” said Marcia Bailey, executive director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. The CEP is the economic development agency for Champaign County.

The magazine cited three qualifying private investment projects that put Urbana on the list. The projects in Champaign County included a roughly $12 million project by Navistar to build a new distribution center on Phoenix Drive and Memorial Health’s recent decision to build a new $9 million outpatient center in the city. Memorial hosted a grand opening celebration for that facility last week.

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The final project was Weidmann Electrical Technology Inc.’s decision to add about 2,600 square feet to its facility at 700 W. Court St. in Urbana. The company, which produces specialty insulation for transformers, pledged to add 20 new jobs and spend at least $500,000 in new equipment as part of an expansion valued at around $2.7 million.

READ MORE: Weidmann to add 20 jobs as part of $2.7M expansion in Urbana

“For us it’s two-fold,” Bailey said of the designation’s meaning for the area. “It’s the potential for companies to see that evidently this is a good place to grow your business because we’ve seen growth over the past year especially. It’s also a way for folks looking for employment or a career change that this is a place to find a job.”

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Findlay, Ohio topped the list with 21 facility deals last year, according to the magazine. The magazine noted Findlay is already home to Cooper Tire, Marathon Petroleum and Whirlpool dishwashers.

The magazine also notes Ohio produced more top 100 micropolitian cities than any other state with 16. Georgia came in second with 14 cities.