Manufacturer picks Urbana for $42 million expansion: ‘People make things happen here’

Company to add more than 40 jobs to area.

A reusable packaging manufacturer in Urbana will expand its Elm Street location by 30% by the middle of next summer, bringing more than 40 new jobs to the area over the next three years in a $42 million project.

The ORBIS Corporation – which crafts reusable totes, bulk containers and packaging pallets – currently employs more than 300 people at its 200 Elm St. Urbana location. Business leaders and company officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the 50,000 square-foot expansion at the site on Tuesday.

The growth of the manufacturing plant will create a new building to house presses and tools, said ORBIS President Bill Ash. Construction is set to begin immediately and is expected to be completed by the middle of next summer.

“For decades, we have been part of the Urbana business community,” he said. “We look forward to this new chapter.”

Part of ORBIS’ interest in Urbana for its location comes from its proximity to major highways, but Ash said he also loves the spirit of the community.

“People make things happen here, and they work to overcome challenges,” Ash said.

The pandemic has been challenging for manufacturers, given supply chain issues and many companies experiencing short staffing. Ash said he does not anticipate “significant labor challenges” for the Urbana location.

Although 46 new employees will be brought to the company in phases over the next three years, the plant expansion brings the opportunity to further grow Urbana’s ORBIS workforce, Ash said.

More than $350,000 of the project will go toward improving the site’s portion of the Indiana and Ohio Railway System. ORBIS was awarded a $100,000 grant by the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

Urbana has a strong presence of manufacturers, with companies like Rittal Corporation and Colepak located minutes away from ORBIS.

ORBIS is among the top employers in Champaign County, according to Ebert.

Champaign County Economic Partnership Director Richard Ebert said the employer base has a domino effect on development in the area. Work opportunities encourage people to take root in the area, and others create new amenities and necessities: coffee shops, housing projects and more.

The expansion “encourages people to come here, work here, live here,” he said.

Urbana Mayor Bill Bean said the expansion was a “long road traveled,” with many partners putting forth effort in the process.

Manufacturing, Bean said, is among the most important businesses in the city, and ORBIS has played a key role in keeping money in the city.

“People go out and spend their hard-earned dollars here in Urbana,” Bean said. “And I think manufacturing like ORBIS makes us what I call a community and not a city. It’s a place to live, a place to play and a place to raise your children.”

ORBIS is a part of the Menasha Corporation, which is headquartered in Wisconsin. The company employs more than 3,000 people overall with locations throughout the country and in Europe.

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