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New business making its way to Urbana

Developers say Urbana is a great place to start a business (WCCU)

Since 2013, city developers say they've seen Urbana transition and now it's an ideal place to start a business. In the last month alone, they've talked to nine potential new businesses.

"Downtown Urbana has had something of a renaissance,” Urbana Economic Development manager Brandon Boys said. “We've seen occupancy rates dramatically increase, a lot of young entrepreneurs have started new businesses, they own these businesses. They're growing these businesses in our downtown."

He says the alternative is those young entrepreneurs leaving the market to start a business someplace else, taking that money with them.

David Schiller is one of those new business owners. He opened Collider Cowork last spring.

"Urbana offers small business grants for people that are trying to start up a business but don't necessarily have the funds to just kind of get it right off the ground,” Collider Cowork owner Schiller said.

The work space allows more businesses to open at a lower risk. Instead of buying or renting an office space, they can start their business out of a shared space on a month-to-month basis.

"Technology and art, basically from what I see, are the two big things,” Schiller said. “So if you do something that's technology based, you're a programmer or you do some kind of hardware stuff. Or if you do something creative, so we have two freelance creative writers that work out of here."

For people already living in Urbana, developers say this means an increase in businesses residents can frequent.

"We're seeing spaces become more active and so that just contributes to the overall desirability and attractiveness of downtown,” Boys said. “It's a place more people want to be, more people want to spend time in."

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