Strategy's focus on high-paying employers; goal is 1.5% job growth
CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign County Economic Development Corp. has set a two-year goal of increasing the county's per-capita pay to $26,000.
That boost would be achieved by targeting high-paying industries including manufacturing, distribution, technology and agribusiness, according to a strategic plan unveiled Thursday.
"If you have a focused strategy, it's not that difficult," said Cameron Moore, the economic development group's chairman, of achieving that goal.
"All jobs are important," he added. "There are people who need $7- to $9-an-hour jobs."
But when it comes to determining where the economic development group will put its efforts, "we'll focus on those folks who can raise per-capita income," he said.
In 2011, the economic development group released a report citing per-capita income of $23,695 for the Champaign-Urbana metro area, which includes Champaign, Ford and Piatt counties. That figure was an estimate calculated by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
The economic development group's goals also include:
— Providing support to create 3,000 new jobs, for a job-growth rate of 1.5 percent a year. That's faster than the 1 percent annual job growth Champaign County experienced before the 2009 recession.
— Attracting $225 million in new private investment, not only in real estate and equipment, but also in workforce training.
— Helping companies to build their payrolls by $132 million.
— Doubling the number of private investors in the economic development group.
More than 150 people attended the group's annual meeting at the Hawthorn Suites in Champaign, which featured products made by Champaign County companies.
Products on display included: bumpers from Flex-N-Gate in Urbana; hurdles from Litania Sports Group in Champaign; and a dinosaur fabricated by exhibit manufacturer Taylor Studios in Rantoul.
Recounting activities from the past year, EDC Deputy Director Erik Kotewa said the group made 59 retention visits to local businesses employing 5,240 people.
It also hosted seven roundtable groups for employers in manufacturing, distribution and biotechnology and for employers in specific geographic areas, such as Rantoul.
The organization also hosted TechMix networking events for local engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs and quarterly meetings for the Urbana Champaign Angel Network of angel investors.
The EDC also helps coordinate the annual Innovation Celebration event that recognizes outstanding innovators and entrepreneurs on campus and in the community. The 2014 ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 27.
A few facts about 10 local manufacturers:
Advanced Filtration Systems Inc., Champaign: Joint venture between Caterpillar and Donaldson sells more than 12 million fluid filters annually.
Eagle Wings Industries, Rantoul: Auto supplier uses 120 welding robots to make parts for Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and others.
Easton-Bell Sports, Rantoul: Bike helmets, bike seats, horns, water bottles among 13 million units shipped from Rantoul facility each year.
Flex-N-Gate, Urbana: Auto supplier has 48 manufacturing facilities in six countries employing 13,000 associates, 700 of them in Champaign County.
Herff Jones, Champaign: Manufactures more than 1.4 million caps and gowns a year, including some U.S. Supreme Court robes.
Litania Sports Group, Champaign: Made vaulting poles used by gold medal winners at 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships.
Silgan White Cap, Champaign: Local facility makes 4 billion caps a year, including a billion Gatorade caps in the spring and summer months.
Taylor Studios, Rantoul: Exhibit maker makes displays for projects in places as far-flung as Bermuda, Aruba, Guatemala.
Triptych Brewing, Savoy: Has made more than 45 kinds of beers, many of which are served at local restaurants and bars.
Deep Silver Volition, Champaign: More than 1 million copies of Saints Row IV were sold worldwide the first week of release.
Source: Champaign County Economic Development Corp.