It's Your Business: Shipping business opens in Urbana

It's Your Business: Shipping business opens in Urbana

A new shipping, packing and mailbox business has opened in downtown Urbana.

My Office Plus opened last week in the Five Points Commerce Center at 510 N. Cunningham Ave., near Walgreens.

"We felt there was a need for this kind of business," said owner Paul Tatman, who describes the store as "a one-stop solution for all of your shipping, packing, business and mailbox needs. It is near the busiest intersections in Urbana, so it is easy to get to."

Tatman said his customers can ship packages through FedEx, DHL, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service.

The store, managed by Becky Gnehm, also offers notary services, secure shredding, printing, faxing, copying, passport photos and computer rental.

The business begins operations with two employees.

It is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Granular arrival

Granular, one of the nation's leading farm management software companies, has opened its new regional headquarters in the University of Illinois Research Park.

"Granular is a farm management software system that helps professional farms to manage all their people, operations, financials and production history from a cloud platform that synchs to iPhones, iPads and John Deere machine data," said Granular spokesman Landon Frye.

Based in downtown San Francisco, the company has 40 employees there and another 20 spread out throughout the Midwest. The new Champaign office at 1800 S. Oak St. will employ 12 people, including software engineers and software support staff, Frye said.

"I'm excited; it's a cool company," said one of the new employees, Sophia Roney.

"The Champaign office will centralize our Midwest operations," Frye said. "Champaign is a perfect place for the intersection of technology and agriculture. We certainly hope to grow this office over the next couple years,

Granular CEO Sid Gorham, who was in town for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies Wednesday, said the company brings together the best of agriculture with the best of technology.

"Talent is what attracted us to the University of Illinois," Gorham said. "The university has a leading position in several disciplines that we care about, including agriculture economics, computer science and data science. We wanted the opportunity to collaborate with professors at the school and take advantage of the resources of students as they come out of the UI program."

New owner for outlet mall

The outlet mall in Tuscola is no longer owned by Tanger.

Greensboro, N.C.-based Tanger Factory Outlet Centers has sold the mall, located near the Interstate 57-U.S. 36 interchange, to New York City-based ADCO Group Inc.

The Tuscola shopping center was one of five Tanger properties acquired by ADCO. The others include two in Kittery, Maine, one in Barstow, Calif., and one in West Branch, Mich.

The five centers were sold for a total of $150.7 million, according to a company news release.

"These centers have an average age of approximately 24 years, compared to our remaining portfolio average of 16 years," said Tanger President and CEO Steven Tanger.

"Because of the potential upcoming capital expenditures necessary to enhance these centers, as well as changes within each market, we no longer felt these assets could produce the growth in long-term internal cash flow and tenant sales that we are expecting within our core portfolio."

Soybean yield record

Farmer Jason Lakey of Urbana and his father Robert this year set a new verified state soybean record with a yield of 108.3 bushels per acre as part of the Illinois Soybean Association's checkoff-funded 100 Bushel Yield Challenge program.

"It's a real thrill to reach this level of soybean yields," said Jason Lakey. "We've had good luck with corn yield contests in the past, but this is the first year we really started chasing big bean yields."

"The Lakeys' management approach really shows what soybeans are capable of," said Shelby Kaufman of Ehler Bros. Co. in Thomasboro, an agronomist who worked with the Lakeys throughout the season. "The entire team worked closely and had great communication. We monitored plant health and conditions every two to three weeks, and adjusted our approach as needed to keep the plants green and stress-free as long as possible."

The 100-Bushel Yield Challenge includes a $5,000 top prize.

New Agrible headquarters

Agrible Inc., an agriculture software company specializing in predictive analytics tools for growers, opened its new headquarters in the Research Park at the University of Illinois on Nov. 6.

The new office reflects Agrible's growth and recent milestones, including the launch of its flagship product, Morning Farm Report, and its partnership with ADM Crop Risk Services.

Chris Harbourt, CEO of Agrible, said the new space provides a modern and exciting place to work.

"The quality of our products has always been reflected in the quality of our amazing team, and now we have the office to match that," Harbourt said. "It's an energized work environment in the perfect city right in the heart of U.S. agriculture."

Agrible established its roots in the research park as a startup at the EnterpriseWorks incubator.

Merger announced

Kemper CPA Group LLP merged with Bray Drake Liles & Richardson LLP on Nov. 1.

The office will operate under the Kemper CPA Group LLP name and will be located at the Kemper office, 1701 Broadmoor Drive, C.

The partners of Bray Drake Liles & Richardson LLP will remain on staff at Kemper. Curtis D. Liles will be joining Kemper CPA Group as a partner, and R. Neil Richardson will be joining as a partner-of-counsel.

Bray Drake Liles & Richardson has served the Champaign County area since 1977.

Kemper CPA Group, a Top 100 accounting firm, was established in Mount Carmel in 1958 and operates offices in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and California. Corporate headquarters are in Evansville, Ind.

Contact Tim Mitchell at 217-351-5366; by email at; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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