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Mattoon in Motion project makes great strides
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Mattoon in Motion project makes great strides

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The Mattoon in Motion project, developed through a collaboration with the MAPPING program at Western Illinois University and the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs, has been ongoing for over a year and continues to make great strides toward its mission as follows: "Mattoon is in motion with a well-trained and skilled workforce fueling a thriving local economy. Youth are provided opportunities of self-discovery and are encouraged to get involved in the community. Residents and visitors enjoy an affordable, high-quality of life with world-class healthcare and educational systems; a variety of cultural attractions, parks and recreation opportunities; and an array of housing options to meet the needs of a diverse population"

One big win of the program is securing a Peace Corps Fellow for community development through AmeriCorps Illinois and the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs. Carlos Ortega is living and working in Mattoon as an intern for community development for the next 11 months. He officially started September 1st of this year. The Peace Corp Fellow Program places individuals in the community based on a successful application and recruitment process. Mattoon was in competition with several other communities to utilize the services of the Peace Corp Fellow. Based on the quality of the application submitted, letters of community support and a very pleasant personal tour of Mattoon, we were chosen as the location by Carlos and The Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs.

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The group is very excited about the opportunities that will present themselves with Carlos being able to dedicate his entire 11 months towards economic development and other projects to help improve Mattoon. Carlos is working towards a Masters Degree in Public Policy and Administration through Western Illinois University. Carlos is originally from Springfield, IL and has lived his entire life in Illinois, other than his time with the Peace Corps. Carlos spent 4 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya and Namibia organizing workshops and events with local businesses, town councils and health officials. He has worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Macomb, IL, helping small businesses develop business plans and finding opportunities for young business professionals.

Carlos has been very busy in his first few weeks here in Mattoon. He has attended multiple business networking functions, toured the community and the inter workings of City Hall. He has been involved in nearly all of the 6 Mattoon in Motion sub committees helping with economic development, workforce development and improvements to our housing community. One exciting project Carlos has been helping with is a collaborative effort with Rural King and the robust economy committee at the Cross County Mall to develop a workspace for entrepreneurs and innovators to reach their dreams and flourish here in Mattoon.

Please join us in welcoming Carlos to our community. He will be working out of the Tourism office in the Mattoon Train Depot at 1718 Broadway Avenue.

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

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