Impact Stories

Transportation in Rantoul, IL

March 2016

The EDC has been working in partnership with the Village of Rantoul on the transportation committee as part of the larger Rantoul Tomorrow strategic initiative. The EDC was instrumental in working with the large employers in Rantoul, the Village, and CUMTD to begin putting data to an issue that challenges both employees and employers in the Rantoul area.

That issue is accessibility and transportation for workers.  Employee turnover is being exacerbated by inconsistent and limited transportation to the Rantoul industrial park west of the village. A deep study and employer survey was conducted by the committee to understand employee origin and bus service demand. The report indicates a demand for ridership in the hundreds, which led to the decision by the Village Board to seek two years of service. The impact of this will be a more consistent and dependable workforce for employers and nearly 2,000 jobs in the Rantoul area, and better accessibility of the village for the general population.

An EDC-led Rantoul Industry Roundtable will be held on April 6th to deliver the details of this service to the employers and discuss their participation. For more information about the bus service, read this Rantoul Press article:

$50M Expansion of Sports Equipment Production Facilities

EDC engaged with consultants representing Easton Bell in a nation-wide site search and provided critical guidance in site location comparisons and availability, as well as established incentives and pre-development partners to help them choose to remain in Champaign County. The company chose to invest $50,000,000 and expand the facilities in Rantoul, retaining and upgrading skill sets of 300 existing employees through on-the-job-training. The site can accommodate 50% additional physical growth, which is expected to lead to additional job creation within 5 years.

“Easton-Bell Sports has enjoyed a long and productive history in Champaign County with a loyal, dedicated workforce and highly supportive local community. Thank you to the local officials, the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and the State of Illinois DCEO for helping make this project happen.” – Easton-Bell Sports

Retention of 200+ Local Jobs

Herff Jones management relied on the EDC to help them navigate through business growing pains. The EDC provided guidance throughout the application and implementation process of employee training grants and infrastructure improvement incentives. EDC provided grant insurance for the state employee training grant to ensure Herff Jones investment was made in Champaign and not elsewhere. As a result, 200+ jobs remain in Champaign.

“I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for the help and assistance that you have provided over the last year. We have spent a lot of time together and cleared many hurdles. None of this progress could have been achieved without your help and guidance through this process. Everyone at Herff Jones is grateful for your hard work and dedication. Thanks again.” – Vice President of Operations, Herff Jones

Supporting Start-ups That Enrich Local Business Landscape

The Product Manufactory is an engineering and design firm that provides product design and other services to companies that may not want to devote internal resources to special projects. The company has benefited from the support of the EDC/SBDC for 3 years with start-up and business planning, exploring financing options, real estate investigation, marketing strategy, and sales process and evaluation.

“The cheerleading role they played early on helped us continue forging ahead through planning to launch. They helped us understand how our business would fit into the local business community as entrepreneurs coming out of the university environment, and helped to make connections with the people that make things happen in the community. The services provided and connections we have made via EDC/SBDC have contributed to our business success.” –  Bryan Wilcox, President

Revitalizing Urbana by Helping to Launch Creative Technology Ventures

Providing support to entrepreneur Matthew Cho in establishing the new co-working space [co] [lab] in Urbana, the SBDC at Champaign County EDC helped Cho bring 10 new tenants into a beautifully renovated space in downtown Urbana.

“The Small Business Development Center at EDC was great in navigating the start-up and business launch path for [co] [lab] in Urbana. It has provided me a solid base of support that provides positive and candid reinforcement. The counselors have been a great sounding board that have helped steer and fuel my desire to succeed. Since [co] [lab] launched the connection to EDC and SBDC has driven users to the co-working space. It has provided a link to the creative community of people and micro-entrepreneurs that are interested in the space. The SBDC strongly represents the interest of the community in supporting the small business environment.” – Matt Cho, President