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The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Mattoon in Motion communitywide initiatives, are continually seeking opportunities to enhance existing local businesses and grow new businesses. Mattoon in Motion is partnering with both Lake Land College and the Mattoon Community School District on projects to advance the hirability of the local workforce.

One of the projects developed is a partnership between Lake Land College's Center for Business and Industry and LSC Communications. They worked together on creating an exclusive 9 week course for students that is completed funded by grants. Once the students pass the fast track program they are guaranteed employment at LSC Communications. This is a win/win for Lake Land, LSC Communications and unemployed community members. The Workforce Development committee of Mattoon in Motion is working on creating more partnerships between Lake Land College and local employers.

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Mattoon in Motion is also working on partnering with The Mattoon Community Unit School District who received a grant from the State of Illinois, to create a competency based education model. Mattoon’s vision for our Competency-Based Education programming is for each Mattoon student, in Preschool through twelfth grade, to demonstrate mastery of content and progress through acquisition of skills at an individualized pace. With learning held constant and time varying based on student proficiency, requirements of seat time will be replaced with application of knowledge and skills in developmentally- and age-appropriate ways. This application will not be limited to the traditional school setting, for although the school setting provides a unique opportunity for students to learn, test, and mastery skills of collaboration, communication, and employment of social-emotional skills, our vision is that once appropriate scaffolding has resulted in student development of academic and social-emotional skills, they should be utilizing those tools in the community.

Mattoon in Motion recently found out that we are the People’s Choice winner for the Google Impact Challenge Illinois. We were already victorious as one of only ten organizations throughout Illinois to win $75,000 and support from Google for our Cross County Innovation Center. At a meeting on Friday, February the 15th in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Google Executives announced us as the grand prize winner of the additional $250,000. We plan on having our Innovation Center up and running later this year. We want to say a big thank you to everyone in the community for taking the time to vote for our Innovation Center. We could not have accomplished this without local businesses and the public voting on our behalf. Our goal is to keep our local talent local, including the ClassE entrepreneur high school students, and recruiting regional innovators to our location at the Cross County Mall. Mattoon in Motion is very excited about all the opportunities developing in our community and look forward to a great future.

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

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