With a prime location and a local government that understands the importance of area businesses, Olney has much to offer new and relocating industries. Enterprise Zone benefits such as property tax abatement and sales tax exemption are designed to ensure the growth and retention of business. Low-interest loans are also available through the city. These attractive incentives are not Olney's only strengths in industry.
"We enjoy an excellent quality of life," says the Executive Director of the Richland County Development Corporation. "Our excellent educational system, recreational facilities, good housing stock and lower business costs -coupled with an excellent utility system and an abundant labor force -make us strong, especially for a smaller community."
The relocation of Illinois Gas to the West Industrial Park provided room for growth and space for the headquarters and operations center of Utility Safety & Design Inc. (USDI) and Illinois Gas. USDI is an engineering/construction/consulting firm that specializes in small gas utilities in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky; it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Illinois Gas.
Olney is also home to Pacific Cycle Inc. and Richland Manufacturing. Pacific Cycle is the largest importer of quality bicycles in the United States; it designs, markets and imports a full range of bicycles under the GT, Schwinn, Mongoose Pro, Mongoose, Pacific, Roadmaster and Murray names. Richland Manufacturing, whose parent company is Eagle Wings Industries, is a supplier of welded and stamped components to Mitsubishi and Honda.
Olney has been the home to many manufacturers for years. Master-Halco is the world’s leading distributor and manufacturer of fence systems. The Olney location is a branch service center, a manufacturing plant and redistribution center that services several locations across the United States and Canada. Master-Halco is a wholly owned subsidiary of ITOCHU International Inc., one of the top 10 largest conglomerates in the world. Jabat, a plastic extrusion company, manufactures profiles and tubing. Escalade Sports is a manufacturer and distributor of fitness equipment and other consumer durables with process capabilities in plastics (blowmolding) and high-speed filling.
Wal-Mart Corporation has a 900,000-square-foot food distribution center in Olney. Schneider Trucking, the Wal-Mart designated carrier, maintains a facility adjacent to the distribution center. There are several smaller sales and distribution operations in the community as well.
Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., a local grain elevator, provides ample facilities for the community's grain production. It offers 1.2 million bushels of storage, handles an average of 14 million bushels annually, and operates 60 licensed storage facilities, including river facilities, sub-terminals, country elevators and a soybean processing plant.
The dairy industry has been successful for a number of years in Richland County. In 1934, operations began at what is now known as Prairie Farms Dairy to produce butter from fresh farm cream. Farmers from Richland and surrounding counties purchased the building and later produced bottled milk, ice cream, cottage cheese and yogurt. The Olney plant now produces fluid milk products and has 100 employees who help to produce a final product that is distributed all over Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Garden produce is a strong part of the economic picture. Fresh produce may be purchased at the twice-a-week Farmers Market from July to the end of October. Organic fruits and vegetables are also available from Clay Bank Farms.
WVLN, WSEI and WIKK radio; Modern Personnel Services; and UPS have long been community business staples. Retail is another major employer in the region, with local merchants, a Wal-Mart Supercenter, national chains Radio Shack and Blockbuster, and regional chains Fashion Bug, Glik's and Rural King as anchors.
for the Future
"Industries in Olney can put in requests for training programs in leadership, team building, design training, lean manufacturing, ISO and QS certification and training, and industrial maintenance certificates and degrees. Entire programs can be put into effect onsite and customized to specific needs," says the Associate Dean of Career Education and Economic Development for IECC.
IECC is also a certified ACT WorkKeys testing center for workplace assessment and job profiling. A certified job profiler is used to identify, using a nationwide norm, the various duties or tasks needed to perform a certain job, as well as the type of worker needed to perform that job. "We’re there to ensure that the work force can keep up with the latest in manufacturing industries' needs," says the Associate Dean of Career Education and Economic Development for IECC.
The IECC Small Business Development Center offers a wide array of free counseling services and business development workshops for area entrepreneurs.
With a thriving industrial environment and a work force that is second to none, Olney has proven itself a worthy and stable area in which to live and start or relocate a business.