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The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce wants to invite the entire community to a Town Hall meeting in the Bock Gym of the Mattoon Area Family YMCA on March 8 from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. Mattoon in Motion committee members will be unveiling their group goals for our area.

The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce worked together with the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation to find ways to help Mattoon prosper in the future. Through this collaboration we were able to succeed in getting the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University to select Mattoon as one of only three communities included in their Management and Planning Programs Involving Nonmetropolitan Groups (MAPPING) program. The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce and other original committee members recruited a cross-section of over 80 residents to take part in the initial planning meetings last fall. The committee's goal of the MAPPING program was to identify areas that can benefit from an organized effort on behalf of a diverse mix of citizens from high school students up to retirees in improving the quality of life in our community.

Last fall, community participants attended a series of public meetings at which they ultimately established six community planning goal areas for Mattoon: a thriving workforce, economic development, tourism promotion, youth development, parks and recreation upgrades, and housing improvements. They also formed subcommittees to develop projects related to these areas. One of the plans being developed include greater partnerships between local businesses and educational institutions to enhance the workforce, keep young people here in the community, fill open positions and recruit talent to Mattoon. Other plans include expansion of the paved bike trail, a potential dog park and ways to attract new visitors to Mattoon. These are long term goals for our community to continue to succeed into the future. The group also developed a vision statement 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. We invite you to move forward in Mattoon!

Many business leaders, Chamber members, educators, students and civic leaders have spent countless hours volunteering to help make this project successful and improve the quality of life and long-term success of our community. Once again, we are inviting everyone to the Town Hall meeting in the Bock Gym of the YMCA at 5:30 p.m. on March 8. Food and entertainment will be provided. For more details about the program and how to get involved, you can contact us at the Chamber by calling 217-235-5661. You can also email us at matchamber@conoslidated.net.

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

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