Table of Contents
production manager creative director director of publication design editorial director copywriting copy editor proofreader director of photography photography lead design web site creation & support director of media purchasing
MATT PRICE Clint Eilerts Amanda White Laura Wilcoxen mark Edmondson Laura Wilcoxen Christina Reese Lisa LEHR Devin Miller Amanda White JOSH CHANDLER DIANA VAUGHN
business development director of business development George Prudhomme director of client relations JERRY ross director of outside sales debbie moss director of inside sales NANCY ODOM marketing specialist shawna moyers regional director of publications George Prudhomme business development manager Bonnie Ebers customer service director kathy Risley customer service representative Judy Jones
advertising director of ad development kacey wolters ad research Mary kopshever MILLY MASON Amy SchwartzkoPf Kathy Scott ad traffic Carol Smith senior ad designer joseph goetting ad design nick marler JOSh Mueller
administrative support administrative support account support human resources assistant customer service advocate mailroom technician
Kathy Hagene carol Smith Terri Ahner Tricia Cannedy Teresa craig Julie Vordtriede melinda bowlin
publishing systems specialist
chairman and founder chief financial officer
Craig Williams Rhonda Harsy
ABOUT This book is published by CommunityLink
and distributed through the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. For advertising information or questions or comments about this book, contact CommunityLink at 800-455-5600 or by e-mail at info@CommunityLink.com. FOR INFORMATION Champaign County Chamber of
Commerce, 1817 South Neil Street #201, Champaign, IL 61820, Telephone 217-359-1791, Fax 217-359-1809, www.champaigncounty.org © 2008 Craig Williams Creative, Inc., 4742 Holts Prairie Road, Post Office Box 306, Pinckneyville, IL 62274-0306, 618-357-8653. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the publisher.
2 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
2008 Champaign County Community Profile Welcome Where Technology Meets Tradition
Health Care 4
Relocation & Homes Champaign County Booms
Growing to Serve
Community Growth Through Community Effort
Urbana Celebrates 175 Years — and Its Lincoln Connection
A Variety of Homes
Bridle Brook Adult Community
Fueling the Future
Corn in Your Tank
Clearing the Air
Blowin’ in the Wind
Business Vignettes Entrepreneurs in Action
The Atkins Group
Classic Granite and Marble
Urbana & Champaign Educators Make National Headlines
“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Icing”
Biodiversity in a Bowl
Contact Information: Champaign County Schools
“Stories of Us”: Stopping Bullies Through Communication
Table of Contents
For Your Dining Pleasure
Research Park at the University of Illinois
Recreation & Tourism
Be Our Guest
Index of Advertisers Please Support Our Advertisers
Time to Play
Is It a Path or a Trail?
Award-Winning Parks Systems
Culture & Entertainment On With the Show
Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
â€œA vibrant business community provides the backdrop for encouraging new commerce and industry.â€? www.champaigncounty.org 3
For 175 years Champaign County has been developing its unique blend of rural tranquility and urban sophistication. 4 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Dear Reader: Our rich sense of history, which influences Champaign County today, ensures that, as a community, we have always been destined for success. Since 1833, when Champaign County was founded, it has been a welcoming guidepost on the Illinois prairie. In the 1850s, it was a stopping point for a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln, who frequently visited friends in Champaign and Urbana as he traveled the circuit from Springfield for the Eighth Judicial District. Throughout the years, Champaign County has continued to be both a final destination and a stopping point. As home to the world-renowned University of Illinois, our community has attracted scientists and senators, teachers and tradespeople, Nobel Prize winners and many other notables. Many stay for a lifetime, enriching the community; some receive or contribute to worldclass teaching before moving on to influence others in different communities. Regardless of the amount of time people spend here, they help develop a unique relationship between this region and the rest of the world. While many of our residents will not receive world accolades, they are the fiber of our community, and they are the primary reason that Champaign County is a great place to call home.
What is it that draws and keeps people in Champaign County? In a phrase, it’s “quality of life.” The 998 square miles of the county include the communities of Champaign, Urbana and Savoy, which make up the commercial hub of the county and the largest population center, with over 100,000 residents. In these tri-cities, homes for every family size, income level and lifestyle are available. Bolstered by outlying areas, which claim some of the world’s richest farmland, the county offers unique opportunities in agriculture and related businesses. The rural nature of the smaller communities has attracted specialty businesses and sole proprietorships, as well as significant new residential growth. A vibrant business community provides the backdrop for encouraging new commerce and industry. As the home of the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Champaign County is recognized as a center for computing and technology, attracting and retaining a diverse group of traditional and high-tech companies and becoming a leader in building the national and global information superhighway. An assortment of cultural resources and facilities abounds in the area. From museums and performing arts centers to a planetarium and botanical gardens, the offerings are matched only by those in the nation’s largest metropolitan centers.
What is it that draws and keeps people in Champaign County? In a phrase, it’s “quality of life.”
Choices continue in education where public, private and parochial school systems strive for excellence in every aspect of staff, facilities, technology and curricula. Nationally and internationally recognized city and county park systems provide recreation opportunities for all ages. The spires of more than 100 churches rise above the Champaign County skyline, reflecting a variety of religious beliefs. Much of the area’s business growth is attributable to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Several high-tech firms are spin-offs of university research efforts. Even the area’s agricultural potential substantially benefits from the school’s ongoing crop experimentation, which includes efforts to cultivate disease-resistant crop strains through biotechnology and the development of precision farming methods and information systems. Recent building projects include the university’s South Research Park, the new One Main building in downtown Champaign, the redevelopment of Lincoln Square Village in Urbana, the schools built by the Village of Tolono and its citizens, the aquatic center in Urbana and the new pork processing plant in Rantoul. These are all concrete examples of people and government entities working together to build for our future. It’s the blending of these facets that produces Champaign County’s unique qualities. The combination of visitors and residents adding their substance to the area is evident in the many cultures present here, from turn-of-the-century German immigrants, who settled in the northern and eastern parts of the county, to more recent arrivals, including a large number of students, faculty and researchers from other parts of the globe. Champaign County has built on ample resources and, true to its history, it continues to be warm and welcoming, a comfortable mix of technology and tradition. The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
6 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Relocation & Homes
New developments, construction and road work promise a better quality of life for residents and future residents alike. 8 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Relocation & Homes
hampaign County, home to 185,000 people, has seen rapid growth in the last 10 years. More than 20,000 people have flocked to the county to enjoy the benefits of booming business, a top research university and the hope of a better life in an opportunity-filled area. According to Jerry Schweighart, mayor of Champaign, for the past five years building permits have surpassed the previous year’s issuance. “This year is no exception,” Schweighart said. “We’re going to set a record again.” Though the economic impact of such an influx of people is remarkable, the county must continually upgrade its infrastructure to compensate for the growth of its population. Twenty-thousand extra people mean a lot of extra cars on the roads. The City of Champaign will build an interchange around Curtis Road and Interstate 57 to allow residents access to other parts of town via the interstate, which should greatly reduce the amount of traffic on city streets. But merely sending the traffic elsewhere is no solution to the problem — that’s why Champaign County will upgrade Olympian Drive to open up a huge area for development as well as to provide a way for locals to get around the area without getting on the interstate.
The City of Urbana’s major push is a project along Illinois Route 130, a retail and residential development zone that’s home to WalMart and is the future site of Menards and other possible retailers. Several hundred homes are also planned for the site. The road will be widened from two lanes to four lanes in front of the Menards site. Other developments, including work on Windsor Road and Goodwin Avenue, will make these streets friendlier to pedestrians, bicyclists and buses. Savoy, directly south of Champaign, has also seen fantastic growth, with five subdivisions being built in the past two years. Proper infrastructure and growth planning are critical to these additions, Village President Robert McCleary said. He credited the Regional Planning Commission for its efforts in helping the Village compensate for its expanding borders and future additions.
More than 20,000 people have flocked to the county to enjoy the benefits.
Relocation & Homes
he once-small community of St. Joseph has seen a lot of construction equipment on its streets these days. St. Joseph sports nearly 1,000 newly built houses. In addition, a new subdivision and community park will open this year. How does a community of fewer than 4,000 people do it? According to Mayor B.J. Hackler, it’s the community spirit of St. Joseph that keeps it moving forward. For instance, when a company requested volunteers to set up playground equipment, they were astonished at the turnout. “They wanted 75 volunteers,” Hackler said. “We had 95 people show up.” Not only did they show up, but they also brought all the tools and equipment they’d need. The majority of these volunteers had previously set up equipment for St. Joseph’s grade school, so they came prepared. “They knew what they needed, and they knew how to do it,” Hackler said. “Six hours later, the project was done.” 10 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
In another instance, 58 trees needed to be planted. Time was running out to get the trees in the ground, and the heavy root balls required several people to lift. One Friday, after a high school football game was cancelled, the coach took the team to the site. After a couple of hours, all the trees were in the ground. This type of volunteerism happens all the time in St. Joseph, Hackler said. And it shows no signs of slowing down as the community grows. People move to St. Joseph, about a 15-minute drive east of Urbana, for the education system, its convenient interstate access and for the safety and security that come with small-town life. New residents are being met with new facilities. The grade school is relatively new. The high school is in the middle of a $10 million expansion and renovation project. A huge project is also under way to create a community park. The park, which opens this year, will showcase three softball diamonds, playground equipment, a pavilion, a combination pee-wee football and soccer field and a combination roller hockey
Relocation & Homes
Urbana Celebrates 175 Years — and Its Lincoln Connection
A It’s the c o that kee mmunity spirit o ps it mo ving for f St. Joseph residents w ard. Ma v o luntee ny playgrou nd equip red to help set up in the co ment an d plant mmunit trees y.
and basketball court. “It’s a big undertaking for a community this size — 3,825 people to do a $3 million sports complex,” Hackler noted. Additional funds for projects have also come from two OSLAD (Open Space Land Acquisition and Development) grants from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which provide 50 percent reimbursement of expenses. The first grant helped fund the acquisition of 40 acres for the community park, while the second grant was used for development of the south half of the park. The two grants totaled $493,000. St. Joseph plans to apply for a third grant for the north half of the park. St. Joseph continues to prepare for even more growth. A parcel of land has recently been annexed into the town that will support 400 homes. Another parcel, also recently annexed, will support 100 homes and 23 businesses. Construction on both areas is ongoing.
s Abraham Lincoln, then a lawyer, rode into Urbana one day in his carriage, his horse took an unannounced detour and knocked down a little tree. Lincoln, probably embarrassed about the incident, paid to replace it. That new tree — now an old, gnarled pine tree — stands on Main Street as a testament to Lincoln’s generosity and responsibility. That’s the legend, at least. And even if it isn’t true, the city wouldn’t dare take a saw to the hallowed pine. Historians have said that if it wasn’t for Urbana, Lincoln may have missed out on the presidency. Therefore, Lincoln legends run deep in the city. When Mayor Laurel Lunt Prussing told the tree story at a luncheon, she was approached afterwards and told that Silvercreek Restaurant has a rock on which Lincoln purportedly stood to give a speech. So in 2009, on the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, Urbana has big plans to commemorate Lincoln’s early years. In addition, this year Urbana and Champaign County will celebrate their 175th anniversaries. Plans are extensive for the celebration, and other works, such as refurbishment of historical markers, are planned. The induction of Urbana’s Main Street as a historical district is also being considered. Passers-through won’t see buildings from Lincoln’s time, though. Most were destroyed in a citywide fire that started in a stable — curiously, on the same day Chicago burned. Urbana isn’t just known for its history. Nor is it just known as the place where, fictionally, supercomputer HAL9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey was erroneously programmed or where giant, man-eating grasshoppers were accidentally bred in the 1957 film The Beginning of the End. It’s also known as one of the top 10 places in the United States to live “green,” according to Country Home Magazine. East Urbana received the Governor’s Hometown Award for its work on Victory Park, while West Urbana was named by the American Planning Association as one of the greatest neighborhoods in America.
Relocation & Homes
Historic Urbana The beauty and warmth of classic Americana is evident when you walk down the street in the neighborhoods of Urbana. Boasting brick sidewalks, globed streetlamps, mature shade trees, graceful landscaping and lovingly restored and maintained homes, the historic neighborhoods of Urbana balance the region’s modern, 21st-century urban appeal with a warm tradition that’s grown over several proud generations. While the historic homes of many college communities have been co-opted and divided for student housing, an active citizenry in Urbana has saved many of the city’s historic properties. Urbana has 18 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places and five properties listed as local historic
landmarks. Tudor-style homes, stone cottages and warm, brick turn-of-the-century houses blend in appealing, walkable neighborhoods. Residences are complemented by historic public buildings, including the city’s 1874 library, as well as parks with abundant green spaces. Urbana’s Historic Preservation Commission was formed in 1998 to review nomination requests for landmarks and districts, promote historic preservation throughout the community, review requests to significantly alter the exterior of designated landmarks, conduct educational and outreach events and protect and save historically significant buildings. Founded in 1981, the Preservation and Conservation Association is a citizens’ group dedicated to similar purposes. Markers draw attention to the city’s historic neighborhoods and give residents and visitors a glimpse into an era long past. You can become part of Urbana’s community and heritage. The city offers a very diverse mix of small, affordable homes and large historic properties, attracting residents of all ages and walks of life. The city of Urbana continues its commitment to preservation. Tax incentives are available for owner-occupiers who rehabilitate their historic homes.
SANDRA C. GORDON REAL ESTATE Sandy Gordon - Broker/Owner
s $EDICATED TO PROFESSIONALISM s !SSIST HOME BUYERS TO lND THEIR DREAM HOME s !SSIST SELLERS SELL THEIR PROPERTY FOR THE BEST PRICE IN THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TIME AND AT THE LEAST INCONVENIENCE TO THEM s +NOWLEDGE OF HOME CONSTRUCTION s ,ONG TIME RESIDENT 1606 N. Willow View Road, Suite 2-D Urbana, Illinois 61802 217-202-4692 • Fax: 217-367-2670 firstname.lastname@example.org www.sandygordon.com
12 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Relocation & Homes
A Variety of Homes C hampaign County is one of those areas where the opportunities to own a piece of history, build a dream home or relax in an urban loft coexist peacefully down brick-lain streets and blackened asphalt roadways. The area is experiencing record-setting growth, and many communities continue to surpass new construction value records each year. This growth is managed, which preserves the quality lifestyle for which Champaign County is known. Champaign • Ashland Park: Reasonably priced singlefamily homes in northwest Champaign. • Boulder Ridge: 800 lots will be developed over the next 15 years. • Chestnut Grove: Single family homes in west Champaign. • Ironwood West : An upscale subdivision with duplexes, condominiums and singlefamily homes in southwest Champaign. • Jacob’s Landing: Single-family homes. • Legends at Champaign: Single- and multi-family homes and duplexes bordering a nine-hole golf course. • Liberty on the Lake: Traditional lots in southern Champaign. • Sawgrass: Fourplexes and single-family homes.
• Trail’s Edge: Luxury single-family homes in southwest Champaign. • Trails at Abbey Fields: A luxury subdivision with larger home sites that border a five-acre lake. • Will’s Trace: Upscale single-family homes in southwest Champaign. • Wyndemere Point, inside Trails at Abbey Fields: $1 million-plus homes with 15 one-acre lots.
Fisher • Heritage Estates: 67 lots with plans for an additional 38 lots for single-family homes. Duplexes for residents aged 55 and older. • Hobbs: Four lots available. • Ingram: 15 large 2.5-acre lots. • Matthews: 12 lots. Mahomet • Hunters Ridge: Featuring single-family homes, duplexes and multi-family units on 66 acres. • Prairie Crossing: Duplexes and singlefamily homes in a 40-acre subdivision. • Summerfield: 25-acre subdivision. • Thornewood: Luxury single-family homes on large, wooded, estate-type lots. • The Villas: Single-family homes, duplexes and fourplexes for people aged 55 and older.
Savoy • Fieldstone: Singe-family homes and duplexes • Lake Falls: Upscale subdivision offering single-family homes with three-car garages. • Liberty on the Lake: Single-family and duplex homes. • Prairie Fields and Prairie Meadows: Single-family, duplex and condominium homes in neighboring subdivisions. • Wilshire: Single-family upscale homes. Urbana • Capstone Quarters Condominiums: 208 upscale units in west Urbana. • Creek Apartments: 500-unit upscale building in southeast Urbana. • Prairie Winds: Single-family homes, condominiums and a senior apartment complex on a 30-acre subdivision designed for those aged 55 and older. • Ridge: Zero-lot-line two- and threebedroom homes in southeast Urbana. • Stone Creek: A 500-acre luxury subdivision surrounding a championship 18-hole golf course in southeast Urbana. • Stratford Residences: 38 luxury apartments in downtown Urbana.
Relocation & Homes
Personal Finance Whether youâ€™re looking for a bank as a newcomer to Champaign County or a current resident refinancing your home, find the right place to take care of your personal banking needs in Champaign County at any of these Chamber member banks. Area code, unless specified, is 217. BankChampaign, N.A. 2101 S. Neil St., Champaign 5 Convenience Center Rd., Champaign Busey Bank 100 W. University Ave., Champaign 314 S. Randolph St., Champaign 614 S. Sixth St., Champaign 909 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign 907 W. Marketview Dr., Ste. 1, Champaign 2011 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign 3002 W. Windsor Rd., Champaign 312 E. Main St., Mahomet 200 E. Sangamon Ave., Rantoul 1231 Grove St., Rantoul 108 Arbours Dr., Savoy 104 N. Main St., St. Joseph 101 N. Main St., Thomasboro 128 E. Holden St., Tolono 201 W. Main St., Urbana 2710 S. Philo Rd., Urbana
351-2870 351-2876 351-6500 351-2700 365-4552 384-3400 355-1580 351-2854 351-2820 586-4981 892-2181 892-4121 384-3424 469-7631 892-2181 485-6021 365-4500 365-4930
Central Illinois Bank 2913 Kirby Ave., Champaign 302 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign 219 S. David St., Sidney 1514 N. Cunningham Ave., Urbana
355-0900 366-4535 688-2301 328-7000
Chase 201 W. University Ave., Champaign 303 S. Mattis Ave., Champaign 405 N. Broadway Ave., Urbana
353-4470 353-4428 351-3271
CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc. 1604 Rion Dr., Ste. C, Champaign
14 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Commerce Bank 1015 W. Windsor Rd., Champaign
602 S. Vine St., Urbana 1103 W. Oregon St., Urbana
First Bank of Savoy 1251 Woodfield Dr., Savoy
Hickory Point Bank & Trust, FSB 701 Devonshire Dr., Champaign 351-7100
First Busey Corp. 201 W. Main St., Urbana
Marine Bank 2434 Village Green Pl., Champaign
National City Bank 30 Main St., Champaign 1771 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign 505 E. Green St., Ste. 5, Champaign 507 S. Broadway Ave., Urbana
351-0500 363-4070 363-4080 255-6959
Prairie State Bank & Trust 1902 Fox Dr., Champaign
Regions Bank 111 S. State St., Champaign
Strategic Capital Bank 1608 Broadmoor Dr., Champaign
TCF Bank 809 S. Wright St., Champaign
First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust 2229 S. Neil St., Champaign 359-9837 601 S. Vine St., Urbana 367-8451 First Midwest Bank 812 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign 378-7629 2004 Fox Dr., Ste. K, Champaign 378-7634 First State Bank Windsor Rd. and Neil St., Champaign 239-3000 FREESTAR Bank 631 E. Green St., Champaign 1205 S. Neil St., Champaign 1611 S. Prospect Ave., Champaign 806D Eastwood Dr., Mahomet 410 N. Broadway Ave., Urbana 1819A S. Philo Rd., Urbana
351-6688 352-6700 351-6620 586-5322 351-2701 351-2867
Heartland Bank & Trust Co. 1101 W. Windsor Rd., Champaign 359-5555 2101 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign 359-5555
U of I Employees Credit Union 206 E. University Ave., Champaign 278-7700 1401 W. Green St., Urbana 278-7700 2201 S. First St., Champaign 278-7700
Relocation & Homes
Bridle Brook Adult Community
ridle Brook Adult Community, currently being built in Mahomet, provides assisted-living, extended-care and maintenance-free homes for older adults. Additionally, Bridle Brook has a clubhouse complete with a big-screen television, family room and kitchen. Phase I of Bridle Brook Adult Community offers 19 villas with two bedrooms, two baths and attached garage. Villas are sold with a guaranteed buy-back. Bridle Brook will also offer six studio villas with attached garage, which will be leased. With the assisted-living option, â€œlight careâ€? packages of assistance may be purchased, which include biweekly cleaning, yard maintenance in the summer and snow removal in the winter. Phase II of the project involves completion of the Bridle Brook Assisted Living Center for those needing more assistance with daily activities. The apartment complex will consist of 50 regular apartments and 30 special-care apartments (dementia care) as the next option. Bridle Brook Assisted Living will open in 2008. Phase III of the community will provide a medical office building with a doctor/medical director, home health care and hospice services.
Inspect before you buy!
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www.advancedhomeinspections.biz www.champaigncounty.org 15
Urbana & Champaign Educators
Make National Headlines W
hether itâ€™s with a film to stop bullies, efforts to get students off the couch and outside to appreciate their environment or how to bake a carrot cake that would make Martha Stewart proud, Champaign County educators are winning national awards and finding ways to improve the lives of middle schoolers all over the world.
Urbana middle school teacher Janice Hari was awarded the Presidentâ€™s Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Secondary Education for her innovative and exciting Biodiversity Bowl project.
16 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and
Love the Icing”
t’s tough to be a middle schooler,” said Deborah Tamimie, a family and consumer science teacher at Urbana Middle School (UMS). “They want to be independent ... but they really don’t know how.” Tamimie’s efforts in the classroom encourage her students and show them ways to accomplish tasks they’ll need once they reach adulthood. She teaches ideas as far-ranging as conflict resolution and money management to how to make carrot cake. Learning a basic recipe may not seem like much, but cooking is an important skill that Tamimie believes needs to be revived, as recent headlines have focused on the growing issue of childhood obesity. The nutrition tips that come from these lessons are now, more than ever, invaluable. “Many of my students come from homes where, for whatever reason, people aren’t cooking,” she said. When she walks through an exercise and dictates a recipe, some students don’t always pay attention. Key ingredients — including carrots — can, and have, been left out. However, after more than 30 years of classroom carrot cake, Tamimie usually knows what happened with just a taste. “There are a lot of successes and there are a lot of failures,” Tamimie said. If the cake is a complete failure, though, she won’t make the kids eat it. Ideas such as money management are also stressed in a creative way. The class takes part in a game in which different occupations are handed out randomly to students. The class then has to figure out where they’ll live, the car they’ll drive and how to allocate free time with the salary provided. Another of Tamimie’s classes, called “Families,” explores the differences between types of families, as the nuclear family, by definition, is not as common as it once was. In addition, the students in the class bake and sell bread. The proceeds are then donated to a nonprofit organization of the students’ choice. “It gives them the feeling of power,” Tamimie said. “That children need to be protected and think, ‘Even though I’m not grown and I don’t have a job and I don’t donate money, I can do this in my class.’” Tamimie’s efforts led to her receipt of the 2007 Teacher of the Year award from the Illinois Consumer Science Teachers’ Association. “I love what I teach,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your career is, the things that are taught are practical life skills that help people deal with life a little better.” Nancy Clinton, principal of UMS, said because Tamimie’s award came from people in her field, the nomination is that much more important. “They know when you do a good job,” Clinton said. “It’s pretty prestigious.”
“I love what I teach.”
Biodiversit diversit y in a B wl F
or most middle schoolers, video games have replaced the mud pie. The television commands more of an adolescent’s time than the outdoors. Homework, however, hasn’t changed much and is still largely ignored. Enter Jan Hari, Urbana Middle School (UMS) science coordinator and eighth grade teacher. A 25-year-long passion for education has taken her from West Berlin, Germany, to Urbana, teaching everything from nursery school to high school. But middle school, she said, is the best place to be. “I like eighth graders,” Hari said. “They’re very excitable ... and very interested in a lot of things.” However, as the majority of 13-year-olds shift from tree climbers to computer gamers, getting kids outside can be tricky. “Some of them don’t like to walk in the grass,” Hari said. “They don’t get their shoes dirty.” This is why Hari, with assistance from Matthew Richardson, a University of Illinois doctoral student studying ecology, came up with a project called the Biodiversity Bowl. A bowl with a bit of saltwater, set outside over the course of two nights, collected a good cross section of the insects around a student’s home. These insects were brought back to the classroom to be analyzed to determine the ecosystem around Urbana. “We really talked this up with the kids,” Hari said. “We said, ‘This is your chance to be published if we collect the data.’” And collect they did. The project was published in The American Biology Teacher Teacher, a scientific journal for classroom educators. Hari teaches what she calls “real science.” Her hands-on approach to ecology and natural science keeps the subject interesting. “We don’t study insects like ‘Here’s the head, here’s the legs’ and all that,” she said. “The Biodiversity Bowl experiment is exciting, because they collected insects right next to their house.” The project led Richardson to nominate Hari for The President’s Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Secondary Education, given by the Entomological Society of America to recognize teachers who go beyond the traditional methods of education and explore the use of insects as educational tools. She was awarded the prize at the society’s annual conference in San Diego. Additionally, the project was adapted for use elsewhere, including in an environmental science class at Kent State University. “It was an effort to show the students science and ecology in their own backyards and then connect it to larger issues,” Hari said. “They did a wonderful job.”
18 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Champaign County Schools Public Schools Champaign Unit #4 School District 351-3800 • www.champaignschools.org Fisher Community Unit School District #1 897-6125 • www.fisher.k12.il.us
Private Schools Champaign Chesterbrook Academy (Pre-K) 355-6601 • www.nobellearning.com Chesterbrook Academy (Pre-K) 344-4863 • www.uiuc.chesterbrookacademy.com
Mahomet-Seymour Community Unit School District #3 586-2161 • www.ms.k12.il.us
Countryside School (K–8) 355-1253 • www.countrysideschool.org
Rantoul City Schools – District 137 893-4171 • www.rcs.k12.il.us
The High School of St. Thomas More (9–12) 352-7210 • www.hs-stm.org
St. Joseph Community Consolidated School District #169 469-2291 • www.stjoe.k12.il.us
Holy Cross School (K–8) 359-2631 • www.holycrosselem.org
St. Joseph-Ogden High School (9–12) 469-2332 • www.sjo.k12.il.us Tolono Community Unit School District #7 485-6510 • www.unitsevenschools.com
Judah Christian School (K–12) 359-1701 • www.judah.org St. Matthew School (K–8) 359-4114 • www.stmatt.net/stmattschool.htm
University Laboratory High School (Sub 9–12) 333-2870 • www.uni.uiuc.edu
Local Colleges and Universities Parkland College 351-2200 • www.parkland.edu
University Primary School (Pre-K, K, 1) 333-3996 • www.ed.uiuc.edu/ups
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 333-1000 • www.uiuc.edu
Urbana School District #116 384-3600 • www.usd116.org
For more information:
217.255.5300 Shirley Knauss, Fundraising Coordinator P.O. Box 17204 Urbana, IL 61803
“Stories of Us” Stopping Bullies Through Communication
20 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Bully. (bul·ly) It’s a little word. An unassuming word. A few drops of ink spattered on a page. But its darkness creeps into the lives of people from all races, classes and creeds. It causes many to look back on an otherwise average childhood with anger, fear or remorse. Its implications change with the ages, and the present day is no exception. In fact, experts say bullying is getting worse. The schoolyard bully, whether a girl or boy, is no longer confined to the playground and the back row of the classroom. A bully now has an arsenal of electronics — cell phone text messages, Internet social networking sites and online chat rooms — to further torment the life of his or her focus. Recent headlines have seen the recipients of such torment tragically take arms to fight back. School shootings — previously unheard of — have become a part of Americana. And to make matters worse, anti-bully programs in place are outdated, thereby rendering them almost useless. But Chris Faull has a plan to address these problems. The Australian filmmaker spent nearly three months in Champaign interviewing Franklin Middle School (FMS) students about what it means to be bullied and how bully-producing situations arise. He then took this information and, with the assistance of the FMS eighth grade honors class, drafted a script for a film on the subject. Teaching guides included with the film will allow teachers to engage in discussion with students about the scenarios enacted on the TV screen, which opens a discussion and finds better ways to deal with the incidents. Franklin Middle School principal Angela Smith said the project spotlighted different forms of bullying and opened up a line of communication between students and teachers to address problems before they got out of control. “It created a voice and a forum for our students to be able to talk about situations that have been avoided,” she said.
Smith said because there is such an open dialogue about bullying at FMS, a bully feels out of place picking on weaker students. This is the first step towards a solution, she said. “We try to create a culture where bullying is not a comfortable element,” she said. “We have to create a climate where kids are safe in school.” The FMS students took a very active role in the film. Nothing went into the movie without their approval. The scenes were all created by the students based on their own experiences. All Faull did was tidy up the edges. “These are real-life situations they have either been in or watched,” Smith said. “There’s nothing I made up,” Faull told the News-Gazette. “It all came from them.” The concept worked in Australia. The scenes, according to the “Stories of Us” Web site (www. readymade.com.au/stories) seemed so real that people didn’t realize the students were acting. After viewing the film, students often yearned for more. The film series was internationally acclaimed by academics in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The “Stories of Us” Web site states that an independent study of earlier films showed students’ reactions were impressive. Almost 20 percent of Australian students who said people who get picked on “had it coming” said they changed their minds after the film. Smith said the movie will provide an element of realism to the bullying problem across the United States by illustrating the problem in a way students, parents and teachers can understand. The lessons taken from FMS are ones that can be used at schools all across the nation. In fact, the film is accompanied by a 120-page curriculum written by the University of Illinois College of Education to help U.S. educators address this issue in school. “Students finally have a voice to express what hasn’t been easily defined,” she said. “We will address it and our building will be better conducive to learning, and we hope that other buildings will be able to do the same. “We are aware this is a problem,” she said. “And we won’t hide our heads in the sand.”
“We have to create a climate where kids are safe in school.”
here are a lot of readers in Champaign County. So many, actually, that Places Rated Almanac called the county the fifth â€œreading-estâ€? place in North America. The Lincoln Trail Libraries System, a collection of 122 libraries across Central Illinois, is headquartered here. Additionally, a new library in Champaign just opened its doors to serve the growing population of readers, and a new library in Mahomet is in the planning stages. Champaign Public Library The new Champaign Public Library, like all new buildings in Champaign County, pushes to be as energy-efficient as possible. Using easily replenished bamboo for most of its construction reduces the strain on forests. Lots of skylights allow healthy natural light to cut back on energy consumption, and angled pillars block the hot sun of a Central Illinois summer from overtasking the air conditioning system.
The library features many other amenities. It has a coffee shop that serves light meals; 122,600 square feet of meeting rooms, bookshelves and study rooms; a used book store; a childrenâ€™s area; and a teen area that boasts music and colorful design. In addition, 122 computers can access online databases to find the obscure reference materials the library may not carry. Urbana Free Library For years, the American Library Association has put the Urbana Free Library in the upper 1 percent of all libraries in the nation. This distinction doesnâ€™t come easily â€” it revolves around public support, volunteerism, collection size and efficiency of operation. The library is also recognized as one of the best libraries in the state. In 2005, the library unveiled its new addition, an expansion that doubled the size of the facility while keeping the Classic Revival architecture intact.
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Looking for a Church Home? This charmer, established in 1906, has multiple buildings, a beautiful sanctuary with stained-glass windows, a chapel, education rooms, a nursery, parking, meeting and reception space, rest rooms, a great music program, and handicap accessibility. This must-see includes a progressive, loving, social-action, LGBT-inclusive congregation with ample room for all ages and outlooks! Close to U of I campus! Worship: Sunday at 9:45 a.m. & Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Christian Education: Sunday at 11 a.m. (Preschoolâ€“Adult) Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (College & Graduate Students) McKinley Presbyterian Church & Foundation 809 South Fifth Street, Champaign, IL 61820 WWWMCKINLEY CHURCHORG s 0#53! s
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The library showcases 50 computer stations, 200 reading spots, a book store, meeting rooms and 250,000 books. Visitors are encouraged to use the Cherry Alley walkway and take notice of the 20-ton limestone sculpture titled Slow and Steady, an homage to Aesopâ€™s fable The Tortoise and the Hare that was created on-site by Todd Frahm. Mahomet Library Mahomet residents recently approved a $3.3 million plan to build a new library on Illinois Route 150, east of the village center. The library will have a meeting room that can seat 80 people, computer stations, seating for readers, a childrenâ€™s department, workspaces for staff members and improved accessibility for children and people with handicaps. The library will sit on 5.25 acres, which gives it ample space for expansion should the need arise in future years.
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22 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
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to Serve In addition to their high-quality health services, these health care providers are among the largest employers in the region.
24 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
arle Clinic, one of the largest care facilities in the United States, has three new projects in the works for Champaign County. In Champaign, a two-story, 68,000-square-foot facility will be built along Curtis Road. The development will include primary care, adult medicine and family and pediatric care facilities and will allow more room and privacy for patients. Because of its location on Champaign’s Curtis Road interchange, when the construction is complete, the clinic will be easily accessible to people inside the city and from rural areas by means of the interstate. In addition, free parking will be provided for patients. A location on Windsor Road in Urbana will be an identical facility and will provide similar amenities to the one on Curtis Road. Tim Meneely, medical director of primary care and pediatric subspecialties at Carle Clinic, said the expansions were prompted by need. “We continue to have the need to bring in new physicians,” he said. “Our current facilities weren’t allowing that.” Carle Clinic also plans to open a new cancer center in Urbana. The 2.3-acre complex will be located next to the Mills Breast Cancer Institute and will provide dedicated care for patients with cancer. “There is a growing need for specialists at our main campus in Urbana,” Meneely said. “It was time to make room for them as well.” This is the second phase of construction dedicated to cancer diagnosis and treatment on the Carle Campus. The Mills Breast Cancer
Institute is being built to focus on diagnosis, treatment and research of breast cancer. The center opens in June 2008. Carle Cancer Center also has received funding from the National Institutes of Health. The grants are due, in part, to Carle’s dedication to cancer treatment trials. The center offers more than 170 clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of cancer. “The more active we and our patients are in clinical trials, the more opportunities we have to bring even more leading-edge care and thera-
“The more active we and our patients are in clinical trials, the more opportunities we have to bring even more leading-edge care and therapies to our region.” pies to our region,” said Kendrith Rowland, MD, principal investigator of oncology research at Carle Clinic. “This is a great accomplishment for our center and our patients.” The Carle Clinic operates under the guiding hand of the Carle Clinic Association, headquartered in Urbana. The association is comprised of more than 300 physicians who work in 11 clinics across Central Illinois. These clinics can be found in Urbana, Champaign, Rantoul, Danville, Bloomington, Mahomet, Tuscola and Monticello. www.champaigncounty.org 25
ollowing the opening of Christie Clinic’s Cancer Center in 2006, which was modeled after the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., Christie Clinic is again expanding. The clinic is building a new medical facility on Windsor Road in Urbana, which will be home to pediatrics, MRI, X-ray technology, family medicine and a Convenient Care Center. Christie Clinic also plans to relocate its Mahomet location to a new, 8,000-square-foot building in 2008.
26 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
“As Mahomet grows, Christie Clinic wants to grow with it,” said Christie Clinic CEO Alan Greghorn in a press release. “We’re examining what the community wants and, more importantly, needs in regard to medical services and technology. Christie Clinic is dedicated to the future of this growing community.” Christie Clinic has provided health care to citizens of East Central Illinois since 1929, making it the oldest health care provider in the region. Since its early days, Christie Clinic has expanded to 40 different departments with 35 different specialties.
Christie Clinic has provided health care to citizens of East Central Illinois since 1929, making it the oldest health care provider in the region. Christie Clinic also recently opened a new Convenient Care Center in Champaign, located at County Market on Glenn Park Drive. This center is one of several planned for the region. A Convenient Care Center will also open at the corner of Fourth Street and Springfield Avenue in Champaign. Christie Clinic operates clinics on University Avenue in Champaign, CU Sleep in Champaign, Provena Covenant in Urbana and clinics in Danville, Mahomet, Rantoul and Tuscola.
Fueling the Future Central Illinois goes green.
f the oil wells run dry, the lights probably wonâ€™t go out in Champaign County. A global push for renewable energy sources, brought on by dwindling petroleum reserves and increasing fuel prices, has brought Champaign Countyâ€™s agricultural sector into the forefront of national research. More than $2 billion is invested in the region for research into efficient production of alternative power. The area has plans for two ethanol distilleries, and the University of Illinois is part of a huge grant to find ways to better produce the environmentally friendly fuel. One of the largest wind power plants in the world came online last year in McLean County, which borders Champaign County to the north. Additionally, a power plant that may very well save the world by exploring new ways to produce coal power without contributing to global warming is being considered in Mattoon, just south of Champaign County.
More than $2 billion is invested in the region for research into efficient production of alternative power.
28 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
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Corn in Your Tank
llinois is one of the largest ethanol producers in the United States, second only to Iowa. Once two new ethanol distilleries around Champaign start production, the extra 220 million combined gallons produced may push the state into closer competition for first place with its neighbor to the west. The Andersons, Inc., a grain and ethanol marketing company, has proposed a plant that will be built next to the Champaign grain elevator. Larry Wood, general manager of The Andersons Agriservices, said the company has taken all the necessary legal steps to build the plant. “All the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed,” Wood said. “We’ve done a lot to get things squared away to build it.” Wood said the plant is awaiting corporate approval to begin construction. If approved, the plant will consume 55 million bushels of corn and produce 110 million gallons of ethanol per year and 350,000 tons of distillers dried grain, an animal feed additive. The increased demand for the fuel has caused rapid expansion of technologies, so when it gets the green light, Wood said 30 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
the plant may also have the option to produce corn oil, as well as to explore ways to utilize other parts of the corn kernel not needed for fuel production. Illini Ethanol, LLC, has also received the go-ahead from regulators to construct a 110-million-gallon facility near Royal, Ill. The increased demand for corn — a major component of ethanol — has been good news for area farmers as well. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn prices have risen sharply, from a decades-long average of about $2.40 per bushel to $3.30 or higher per bushel. Though the price hike is not entirely related to ethanol, Wood said it does play a part. This price boost has also saved the government money. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issues additional payments to corn farmers when the price is low. Yvonne Odum, director of the Champaign USDA office, said that with the increased price, she issued very few of those payments last year.
Clearing the Air B
ack in the Roaring Twenties, when Chicago became known for gangsters and speakeasies, some farmers found that a conversion of corn into alcohol was a great, albeit illegal, way to make some extra cash. And with a few engine modifications, the moonshine runners found they could pour their illicit goods in the gas tanks of their cars and outpower the law enforcement vehicles of the time. Henry Ford’s Model T was supposed to have run on distilled corn alcohol. The diesel engine was designed to run on vegetable oil from locally grown plants. Today, this concept is making a comeback. Rising oil prices and the question of how people can power their cars, heat their homes and generate electricity without the aid of petroleum prompted oil giant British Petroleum (BP) to look into a way to keep the company in business once oil gets too expensive to extract. BP decided to explore what are called “advantaged molecules” — types of plantbased carbon molecules that have the potential to replace petroleum. But when BP checked its employee roster, it found that it had only one biologist on its worldwide staff. To solve this problem, BP looked to academia. After a series of applications, the University of Illinois, in partnership with the University of California at Berkeley, got the job. The 10-year, $500 million project will establish the Energy Bioscience Institute on
the U of I campus, to be housed inside the Institute for Genomic Biology. “Doing big science ... is something public universities do well,” Richard Herman, U of I’s chancellor, said about the grant. “We can and should be national leaders in alternative energy sources.” In order to offset the rising price of corn, the BP grant is poised to analyze other natural mediums that can efficiently be distilled into ethanol, such as a hybrid grass or corn stalks. The grant will not only explore the use of alternative methods for ethanol production, but will also examine the environmental impact of such production. For instance, giant miscanthus, a type of hybrid grass, is considered an excellent source of ethanol. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that, for each metric ton, giant miscanthus has the potential to produce close to 1,000 gallons of ethanol. When compared to corn, which can produce 600 gallons from the same amount, the idea of growing grass sounds enticing to ethanol companies. Charles Zukoski, vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois, said the soil may also benefit from the transition. Corn requires more maintenance than grass, so miscanthus would save time and fuel for farmers. With miscanthus, no fertilizer would ever have to be added to the soil. “Corn takes a lot of fertilizer,” Zukoski said. “With these grasses, at the end of the season the nitrogen and phosphorus go back into
the roots. You’ll harvest for a decade without ever putting anything on the ground.” There are potential problems that ongoing research must also address. One of the big concerns is the impact a transition to grain- or grass-based fuels would have on global food prices. Plus, the technology and infrastructure to convert grass to ethanol are limited. Another concern is that grass seeds could invade adjoining corn and soybean fields, thereby ruining the crops. However, this is not a concern with miscanthus, Zukoski said, as the grass produces infertile seeds. “You don’t have to worry about invasion. The bad news is that you can’t plant seeds to get it to grow.” Zukoski said John Deere wants to help find a way to plant and harvest the crop. Other companies that study genomics and perennial grasses also want to move into the U of I’s Research Park. The research is just getting started, Zukoski said, but some materials are already growing on the campus farm. Later, when research requires more products to convert to biofuel, the university will branch out. “In Champaign County you’ll begin to see test plots of these different materials growing,” he said. Larry Wood of The Andersons, Inc., expects something remarkably innovative to come out of the combined research of the U of I and Berkeley. “Ethanol is the first baby step over to using more biofuels,” he said. “Who knows what will come out of research.”
“We can and should be national leaders in alternative energy sources.” www.champaigncounty.org 31
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Blowinâ€™ in the Wind T
hereâ€™s more than corn in Central Illinois. Thereâ€™s wind, too. Horizon Windâ€™s Twin Groves Wind Farm, located just north of Champaign County, is doing its best to take advantage of that other natural resource thatâ€™s so prevalent on the Central Illinois plains. The 396-megawatt plant, complete with 240 turbines spread across 21,000 acres, will produce enough power for about 120,000 homes in its first two phases. Project Manager Bill Whitlock said phases one and two of the plant are online, while phases three and four are in development. If built, when these phases come online, an additional 170 wind turbines should push Twin Groves to about 680 megawatts of power. Major arguments against wind energy usually revolve around the noise the 200-foot-tall turbines make as they slice through the air. However, Whitlock said the noise is minimal because the turbines are placed at least 1,500 feet from any buildings. At that distance, the sound of the wind drowns out the blade noise. 32 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Another argument concerns the hazards the whirring machines pose to birds. Recent data suggests that only one to two birds are killed annually by each turbine â€” contradicting old arguments about hundreds of bird deaths per year. The Twin Groves facility is an active participant in a U.S. Department of Wildlife study on the topic. The Twin Groves Wind Farm, Whitlock added, is endorsed by the Audubon Society. â€œI think anyone with any knowledge on the subject supports wind energy technology,â€? he said. A new Illinois state law for wind turbine tax assessment allows for $9,000 to be taxed for each megawatt of power a turbine produces. Twin Grovesâ€™ turbines are all 1.65-megawatt generators, which works out to $14,850 apiece. This property tax money goes to schools, bolstering the Ridgeway and Tri-Valley school districts. A good thing, Ridgeway School District Superintendent Larry Dodds said, because devaluations of farmland in McLean County have cost the school about $9 million in the last six years.
â€œAnyone with any knowledge on the subject supports wind energy technology.â€?
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â€œWeâ€™ve had to plan for our loss,â€? Dodds said. â€œSo this will go a long way.â€? Dodds added that the turbines are not only a plus to the school district, but since they are leased by Horizon Wind to the landowners, the farmers benefit as well. Whitlock said lease payments to landowners exceed $1.2 million. Dodds said he also appreciates the turbines because they keep oil in the ground and instead utilize wind to generate power. Fortunately, he said, the towers make very little noise. â€œSince weâ€™re paying so much for oil, I look at it as an alternative,â€? he said. â€œItâ€™s a fantastic idea that benefits farmers, and itâ€™s a plus for the school district.â€? Whitlock said the presence of the turbines has people paying closer attention to the weather. The breezy plains, once largely ignored by residents, have become a topic of conversation. â€œPeople are much more aware of the wind,â€? he said.
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utureGen, a one-of-a-kind coal research plant, is designed to be the cleanest fossil fuel power plant in the world. The project would attempt to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by employing a method called coal gasification. On December 18, 2007, the FutureGen Alliance announced that Mattoon, Illinois, located just south of Champaign County, is their choice for the construction of the state-of-the-art facility.* Cutting-edge technology would be used to mix coal and steam under high temperatures, which reduces the coal to hydrogen — burned cleanly for power — and carbon monoxide, as well as other chemicals and detritus that can be used in different applications. The carbon monoxide would then be converted to carbon dioxide. And this is where the new technology plays a key part. Instead of releasing the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — contributing to global warming — the plant would liquefy the gas and inject it into deep saltwater aquifers more than a mile underground, a technique called geosequestration. One of FutureGen’s goals is to see if this gas will remain trapped underground, diluted in water and capped on top and bottom by thick layers of sandstone, or if it will fizz back to the surface. 34 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
“Illinois is ready to get to work to ensure that FutureGen is a success.”
The plant’s success could bring a revitalization to the Illinois coal industry. More than 65 percent of the state sits atop coal reserves, but Illinois coal — dirty and full of sulfur — doesn’t mix well with federal clean air laws. Because of its nature, fewer power plants have purchased Illinois coal, devastating the state’s coal industry. The FutureGen plant would be small, providing power to just 150,000 homes. It is designed, above all, to be a research plant to prove that coal can be a clean, usable energy source. The technologies gleaned from the procedure will be used for future plants around the world. “We are thrilled that Illinois will be home to FutureGen,” Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said at the time of the FutureGen Alliance’s announcement Mattoon’s selection. “As the entire world watches, Illinois is ready to get to work to ensure that FutureGen is a success.” Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Levin said the plant would affect all of Central Illinois because of the increase in jobs and the economic benefits that will come with the
construction and operation of the plant. “This is a win for all of Central Illinois, and the economic benefits will flow far and wide.” In a recent study, Southern Illinois University Carbondale estimated that more than $1 billion worth of revenue and 1,225 indirect jobs would be created statewide during the construction period alone. Construction has been slated to begin in 2010, with the plant coming online in 2013. *Editor’s Note: At press time, the U.S. Department of Energy had pulled out of the project, citing budgetary concerns. However, the FutureGen Alliance Board has unanimously agreed that constructing FutureGen in Mattoon remains in the public interest, and Illinois legislators, including Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, continue to petition the White House to support FutureGen in Mattoon. www.champaigncounty.org 35
in Action Young businesses find a great atmosphere for success in Champaign County.
36 Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
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The Atkins Group
he Atkins Group is a locally owned and managed real estate development company. More than 30 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton C. Atkins started The Atkins Group in Champaign County with residential property. The firm has quietly grown and diversified into a portfolio of residential, apartment, commercial, industrial and farm properties. The company owns strategic property across Champaign County and is positioned to develop properties in a rapid manner to meet the aggressive schedule demands of its clients and tenants. The Atkins Group builds speculative shell facilities for businesses to relocate and then custom-fits the interior of the building to the particular needs of the client. This process saves months of development time for the prospective client and allows them to quickly locate in Champaign County. To be competitive in the global economy, the ability to provide Âeconomical facilities in a quick time frame is a key factor.
Mark Dixon, director of commercial and industrial real estate at The Atkins Group, said the companyâ€™s â€” and Champaign Countyâ€™sÂ â€” success in the industrial sector can be attributed to the quick access to the rest of the country via the interstates (I-74, I-57 and I-72) that cross through the county and a well-educated and dedicated labor pool. California and Washington state can be reached by truck within two days in most cases. However, Dixon said, The Atkins Group credits the majority of its success to its relationships with the community. Four generations of Atkins family members either live or have lived in this community, and the company has close ties with local businesses and residents. â€œNot only do we work and invest here,â€? Dixon said, â€œbut we live here. â€œWe wouldnâ€™t have reached this level of success without the support of the community.â€?
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