The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce would like to welcome back students of Eastern Illinois University and Lake Land College. We greatly appreciate you choosing to come to our hometown to continue your educational opportunities. We know you will enjoy your experiences in our community. We were excited to hear that for the second consecutive year Charleston was named the second safest college town in America. We also want to congratulate Lake Land College on their 50th anniversary serving the Mattoon area community.

We encourage you to utilize the local businesses and resources available here in Mattoon, an easy 15-minute trip from Eastern's campus. Our business establishments welcome you with open arms and are excited to have you in our community. Other than the EIU Panther Shuttle, we have great resources for you to get around town to visit local businesses. Dial-a-Ride shuttle services travel between Charleston and Mattoon and easily fit within the college student's budget. Downtown Mattoon is one of the stops on the shuttle where you can find a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

Our town offers numerous types of activities including AMC Showplace, which has 10 different theatres for movie buffs. If you are into outdoor activities, we have the Douglas-Hart Nature Center right here in Mattoon. Douglas-Hart is a nature reserve that offers visitors different Illinois habitats, field programs, environmental educational classes, and volunteer opportunities. Two miles of trails take you through native Illinois habitats: prairie, forest, pond and wetlands. They offer you to take a leisurely stroll, brisk walk or to run like the wind! We also have the Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail that runs between Charleston and Mattoon, and is paved in some sections and limestone chipped in others. It is a great 12 mile route for the running or cycling enthusiast. By 2018 the trail will be paved and expanded from EIU all the way to the Mattoon Train Depot, totaling over 15 miles.

We have over 100 different restaurants in the community that offer culinary delights from A-Z. One of the many unique features of Mattoon is that we do not have what you would consider a traditional Burger King. That is because downtown Mattoon has a restaurant that was called Burger King in the early 1950's before the corporate franchise began spreading nationwide. The owners of the local eatery were victorious in court and were allowed to keep their name and prevented the Burger King chain from opening up within 20 miles of Mattoon.

We welcome students to check out our Facebook page and website. We have links to events, activities and businesses to patronize here in Mattoon. Check us out at mattoonchamber.com. We're glad you're here, where everyone is welcome.

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

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