What is Mattoon doing to keep our city alive? For the last 70 years I have heard the rumors that our founding fathers have fought to keep competition out of our city. These people were afraid of losing their businesses to outsiders. The Burger King story is one example of how a franchise business has been kept out of town. Rumors were, Ford Motor Company had looked at Mattoon for a plant, but the city would not supply infrastructure to them. Yet, look how many jobs and businesses closed down when Wal-Mart entered the city. We have lost all the corner grocery stores; we are hanging on to My Store and County Market for now. Our downtown has lost blocks of businesses from eateries to clothing shops and continues to have open locations. Why is it, Mattoon cannot draw franchise eateries like Champaign, Effingham, or community stores like Arcola and Arthur. Look at the last few years as our industrial base has shut down. We are slowing losing all the appearance of a working industrial or factory environment with the loss of Blaw-Knox, Ampad, and now GE. We lost the two railroad crossover system that really hurt the city and the interstate road bypass of businesses. Now we hear the city is broke, therefore infrastructure which many companies seek cannot be provided. Yet we seem to worry about bike paths and ball diamonds. Why are there no businesses looking at 1000 North and 57? Rumor has it, a "Pilot" or "Love" truck stop by-passed this Mattoon location. This appears to be a prime location for someone. How is it Mattoon is giving up on so many business locations in the corridor to our neighbor Charleston? How can we continue to pay high taxes for a first-class airport, yet we cannot push the location for a transport hub? Rumor has it, Alton trucking and the Japanese restaurant near I-57 may be leaving due to high property taxes. How do we stop these losses?
It is a shame that our citizens will travel to Arcola, Arthur, Effingham, Champaign or Decatur to eat and shop, but now support more growth in Mattoon. We need to build our city, if we hope to maintain a population for tomorrow.
Clarence Kersey, Mattoon