The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce hopes that our business community can build on the successes of 2017. The Mattoon business community has been able to grow and prosper despite the issues many other communities face with the ongoing state budget issues and state government dysfunction.

Some of the highlights of 2017 include Rural King's purchase of the Cross County Mall. This is great news since we now have a local entity as the owner, who will have a vested interest in filling up the open store fronts. Once Rural King moves their corporate headquarters to the former Sears location, what retailer wouldn't want to come to a mall that has over 200 potential customers at their doorsteps a minimum of 5 days a week? We have also seen many new business construction projects completed in 2017, including the addition of Copper Creek Cottages Memory Care, Sarah Bush Lincoln's new Walk-in Clinic and Cancer Center, Planet Fitness, KC Summers GMC-Buick-Toyota, and CRAVE Coffee & Cafe just to name a few. Many other new business projects that are currently under construction to be completed early in 2018 include a new retail center, just to the west of Cracker Barrel. This location will host Starbuck's; an AT&T authorized retailer, Kay's Jeweler's, and a Great Clips. Copper Creek Cottages is developing a new professional project called the Lone Elm Center which has a chiropractor's office and room for 3 other professional businesses.

Downtown Mattoon has probably seen the biggest growth through a revitalization plan where over a dozen new businesses have opened in the past 2 years. New businesses downtown include, Sears Hometown Store, E & R Beauty Supply, Team ITS Technologies, Rejuvenate Salon, Osaka Sushi and Steakhouse, Helms Chiropractic, Fischer & Wozniak, Clark's Hearing Aids, Sapphire Salon & Spa, Wild Rose Boutique, Artsy Chic Studios, Luigi's Italian Restaurant and Brittany Jane's and Co. The great news for 2018 is that downtown Mattoon already has commitments from 3 other new businesses including Mattoon Flower Shop and a beauty supply business. Keith Summers, Dr. Don Freesmeier and others have been instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Mattoon. Many of these new businesses have unique store fronts, facades and interiors based on Keith and Don's investment in keeping a consistent overall historic appearance to Mattoon's downtown business district.

Included in the revitalization of Downtown Mattoon, Heritage Park, a collaborative effort between the City of Mattoon and the Lumpkin Family Foundation was dedicated in 2017 and has become a destination for music, events and a great spot for holiday photos. Historical markers and native prairie grasses highlight some of the unique characteristics of the park.

We hope everyone is as excited as we are for what 2018 has to offer our community. We wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Ed Dowd is the executive director of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce.

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