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City Spotlight 620 – Mattoon

City Spotlight 620 – Mattoon

Coming up on City Spotlight, with just five episodes left in season six. We head to Mattoon as we talk about the latest
in economic development in Mattoon. First, Ed Dowd, executive director of the
Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, with the latest on LSC Communications. Plus, the latest going on at the Cross County
Mall, including the Innovation Center and new economic development in and around Mattoon. Then Jeremy Yost, CEO of Yost Enterprises,
discusses the Coles Centre Development Area and the latest on the new hotel and convention
center. It’s all things economic development in Mattoon
here on City Spotlight. [music plays] City Spotlight is supported
by Consolidated Communications. CCI is honored to salute the cities and their
leaders in the area, as well as providing TV, Internet, and phone service for the local
homes and businesses. We live where we work, and are proud to support
the communities we serve. More information available at Welcome to another edition of City Spotlight. As you can see, we are back on location once
again here in season six and we are taping a new episode here on Mattoon. We are taping first time here on February
24th. It’s the final Monday of 2020 in February,
and we are taping for the first time at the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce offices. We welcome back to the program a familiar
face, the executive director of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, Ed Dowd. Ed, great to have you on again. Ed:
Oh, thank you so much for having me. A lot of exciting stuff happening with spring
in bloom soon. Rameen:
Right. Ed:
A lot of great stuff is going to be happening in March, so real exciting. Really glad that you’re here. Rameen:
Excellent. We are taping again here at the end of February,
but folks at home are seeing this for the first time officially spring, end of March. Glad to be talking about things here in Mattoon
as we’re a third of the way into the year. Ed, let’s first talk about something that
happened, transpired at the end of January, beginning of February, the announcement of
the news involving LSC Communications. Can you give us a comment on about LSC Communications,
please? Ed:
Sure. LSC Communications unfortunately decided that
they closed three different plants, one of them being Mattoon, Illinois. There are 796 employees that are affected. However, what we found is that there’s so
many organizations that need people. So they are allowing us, LSC, to have job
fairs, one of which will happen actually the day before the airing. Three of them will happen after. And what they’re doing is they’re letting
us to have the job fairs out at LSC, and we’re going to do it from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM. We’re going to get every single shift of all
the LSLC employees to be able to find jobs. We have over 60 organizations who are going
to be at this job fair. Actually we’re calling it a job and resource
fair, because not only are we going to have opportunities for jobs, but for resources. We’re going to have Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab. We’re going to have organizations to help
them navigate their retirement plan so that they don’t waste tax money and things like
that. We’re going to have public works, our public
health department there if they need services. So it’s going to be a great opportunity. And in my view, I think anybody who needs
a job or wants a job will have access to a job when there’s over 60 different organizations
who are greatly in need of these people. Even though it’s a tough situation, I think
it’ll be an opportunity for all these employees to get re-employed locally. So, real exciting stuff. Rameen:
Many, many opportunities for people to benefit from those job fairs. Very good. Thank you, Ed. The last time we had Ed on was the end of
2018 in December. And not too long after that, some exciting
news came to Mattoon. As folks know about a year ago, the Google
grant that Mattoon is going to be benefiting from, involving Mattoon in Motion. Ed, kind of tell us about that whole process,
everything that’s involved with it, and a lot of what’s being benefited from that grant
is happening in the Mattoon Mall. Ed:
Absolutely. So what’s real exciting is we partnered with
Rural King, who bought the mall since the last time we’ve talked, and they are very
aggressively wanting to fill them all. They’re doing a fantastic job getting a lot
of different organizations out there. One thing they did, they are allowing us to
use 6,000, almost 7,000 square feet of space for Elevate, the innovation center. They’re charging us only a dollar a month
rent, so we can’t thank Rural King enough. The $325,000 grant that we won is for the
build out, and we are making it the highest tech with consolidated communications helping
us out. We’re going to have video conferencing, we’re
going to have the latest and greatest internet, gigabit speed, fiber optic gigabit speed. Rameen:
Wow. Ed:
We’re going to have all kinds of opportunities for entrepreneurs, for coders, for different
businesses to locate out there. It’s going to be a co-working space for entrepreneurs,
for innovators, and it’s just going to be such an exciting opportunity for people. We already have five different organizations
who are already wanting to be part of it before it even opened, and we have some people who
are starting their businesses out of the center. So it’s just been a fantastic thing. We’ve gotten national attention from this
as well. Companies such as LISC, which is a rural community
of 45 different states, 80 different organizations, who we’re going to be part of their network. Grand Victoria Foundation out of Elgin, Illinois
is wanting to be a partner with us as well. We’re getting grant opportunities from them. So we’re getting all kinds of national attention
for the Elevate Innovation Center, so it’s just real exciting. We’ve got Carlos Ortega, who was our peace
Corps fellow the last time we talked, who came to Mattoon to help us with Mattoon in
Motion. He has decided to stay in Mattoon and he’s
going to be the executive director of Elevate. He’s going to bring a lot of experience with
small business development and all kinds of things to the center, so just just exciting,
exciting opportunity for us. Rameen:
And I see here on my notes here that by the time this is airing at the end of March, this
will be underway or opening. Ed:
Absolutely. By the time this airs, it’ll be open to the
public and we welcome people to come check it out. For the members, it’s going to be 24/7 access. Rameen:
Wow. Ed:
Let’s say you wanted to start your own business and you have kids, you have a job, you have
commitments during the day. Well, let’s say you want to go early morning
or late at night and start on your business. You’re going to have 24/7 secure access to
the facility to start your business. And again, during the day it’s going to be
open to the public, so people can view and see what’s going on. Very exciting. Rameen:
All right, we’re going to stay with the mall because that’s where things are happening
right now in Mattoon. As folks know at home, Marshall’s is open
right in the center of the mall. Also McQuarter’s, which Ed will comment here
about. And also coming soon, probably prior to this
airing of this episode, Glik’s! Tell us all the wonderful other things that
are going on at the mall. Ed:
Yeah, so Scotty’s Brewhouse. Unfortunately the corporate headquarters decided
to close, so McQuarter’s, which is another local company … The owner, Justin McWhorter
from Windsor Pub decided, “You know what? I want to be part of this.” And so he opened McQuarter’s pub, and they’re
doing very well. It’s great food and beer. They have all different kinds of craft beers
and beer for people to partake in, and the great food. And then Glik’s, Glik’s actually used to be
in Mattoon at the mall where Rue 21 is now. Rameen:
Yes! Yes. Ed:
And they said, “You know what? We love what’s happening in the mall. The Mattoon Mall is doing very well with Rural
King’s support.” And they decided to come back. They’re going to be actually right across
from where they used to be in the [inaudible] Hallmark. Again, they’re going to be open by the airing
of this show. It’s a department store. Men’s, women’s fashions. What’s neat is it’s a family owned business
and it’s a fifth generation, and actually Jeff Glik, the owner will be out at the grand
opening. And another neat aspect of it, they’re going
to be right next to where the innovation center is going to be. Rameen:
Beautiful. Ed:
So they’re excited, and we’re excited to have them. Rameen:
Kind of a new hopping corner there in the Mattoon Mall. Ed:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Rameen:
All right, thank you for the update on the mall. And happening over there near Walmart, over
at Market Place Mall on Detro Drive, to be opened around the time of the airing of this
episode for the first time. Shoe Sensations? Ed:
Correct. Shoe Sensation is a business new to Mattoon
as well, and they have 4,000 square feet of space in the old Sarah Bush walk in clinic. Rameen:
Right. Ed:
I think they said they have over 10,000 shoes available to people. They’re going to be opening as well. And I know you even said your wife’s excited. You said your wife saw the sign and she was
very excited about it opening. Just a great opportunity for more retail options
for people in Mattoon. It’s just amazing how much, like I said, spring
will be sprung and we’re going to get all these new businesses coming. So real exciting. Rameen:
Exactly. And it’s great to see you’re filling up an
area that for folks that have lived in Coles County for so long, that area of the Market
Place Mall continues to evolve. Ed:
Exactly. It’s very exciting. Very exciting. Rameen:
Let’s head a little bit further East toward Charleston, not too far east out of Mattoon. Obviously we have the Coles Centre Development
Area there at the corner of Lerner Road and route 16. Once it’s all developed, you won’t be able
to miss it from I-57. But tell us all the things that are going
to be popping up once they’re completely built over there at Coles Centre. Ed:
Yes. It’s so exciting. People joked that there was roads that were
developed about six or seven years ago that led to kind of nowhere. Very beautifully landscaped, very nice streetlights
and everything, but it kind of didn’t develop. Well, now they’ve developed three different
huge organizations that are going to be moving in there. It’s so exciting. Blue Cross Blue Shield, which actually has
a location here in Mattoon on Broadway Avenue, but they can hold only less than a hundred
people. They are so happy with the workforce and the
job that people are doing here in Mattoon. They’re going to open a 50,000 square foot
location in Coles Centre that’s going to be able to house up to 300 employees, and they
plan on filling it. It’s going to be two stories. It’s going to be great. There’s also HSHS, Hospital Sisters Health
Systems, and they’re going to open a walk in clinic. Rameen:
Right. Ed:
They already have a doctor who’s going to start. They’re planning on opening in June. They’re also going to have a nurse practitioner,
and they’re going to have a couple of different office spaces out there. So another great addition to the area. And then a third thing, 104 room hotel and
convention center. Rameen:
That’s exciting. Ed:
Hilton Garden and Convention Center. And I know Jeremy’s going to talk to you about
that. Rameen:
Absolutely. Ed:
It’s real exciting. So we have three major developments happening
all at once in there, and hopefully they’ll be open by the first of 2021. So, real exciting. Rameen:
I’ve talked with mayor Tim Grover and other leaders from Mattoon before talking with you
these last few times, and talking about how the land between Charleston and Mattoon filling
up. Maybe this is the start of it with these three
going on there. Ed:
Absolutely. Rameen:
Obviously as Ed just mentioned, nice segue. In our next segment, we’ll talk more about
the hotel and convention center with Jeremy Yost of Yost Management Services. Very good. Thank you, Ed. Let’s talk about something just a couple of
blocks from where we’re taping here on Broadway Avenue, a business that unfortunately gone
through a little bit hardships with a recent fire that happened in the spring of last year. Shores Jewelry has been bouncing around, but
it looks like it’s going to be finding a new permanent home. Ed:
Correct. Yeah, Shores Jewelry, unfortunately they did
have a fire that destroyed the building. He did have a temporary location on 19th and
Broadway and he’s still there now, but in the meantime he’s building a 10,000 square
foot standalone building on the corner of 14th and Broadway. It’s going to be a brand new building, brand
new development here in downtown Mattoon. He’s also going to have four different offices
that he’s already got filled up with different businesses from accounting, from real estate,
potentially a law office. He’s got all the spaces filled up, and it’s
going to be a great addition to downtown Mattoon. Rameen:
A good sized building there, across from a CVS there at the corner of 14th and Broadway
Avenue. Excellent. Glad to see Shores Jewelry was able to bounce
back from the unfortunate fire. Ed:
Absolutely. Rameen:
Very good. Let’s talk about the enterprise zone designation,
which is something the enterprise zone has been in place for about 30 years now- Ed:
Correct. Rameen:
But it’s going to be here more moving forward. Ed:
Yeah, so what happened was Coles Together. They had to submit … It was 7,000 pages
of documentation- Rameen:
Oh, my gosh. Ed:
To request to be concluded again in the enterprise zone. Again, it was great for 30 years. Now that you’re getting into an additional
20 years, what’s new and unique about this new designation? Before it only covered manufacturing and industry,
so businesses such as Mars and LSC and Justrite. They were the only ones who could really benefit
from it. Rameen:
Right. Ed:
Now it includes … They were able to capture retail, commercial and service industries. So now they are part of this, so they can
get the benefits from this. We already have a business who’s already utilizing
the benefits. Morgan’s Meat Market is doing a major expansion
and they are going to benefit from the enterprise zone. They get tax free for all the supplies that
they use for the renovations. They also get tax abatement from the city
for 100% the first year, 75% the second and 50% the third. So they get tax abatement and they get tax
free for all the different materials they use for their construction. It’s just going to be a huge thing, not only
… And as you mentioned, as we talked about prior to taping, what’s really great about
this, it’s not just Mattoon- Rameen:
Right. Ed:
… but this enterprise zone covers almost all of Coles County. Rameen:
Wow! Ed:
So any business who decides to either relocate or expand or things like that are going to
have the opportunity in all of Coles County. It’s just so exciting the opportunities that
are going to come from this, and it’s good for 20 years as we discussed. Rameen:
So by the time it’s the next round, it’ll be 50 years. So congratulations to Coles County on the
enterprise zone. Ed:
Yes. Rameen:
Very good. Ed:
Fantastic. Rameen:
In our final minute or so, Ed, the last time I taped a City Spotlight episode involving
Mattoon was back in September. One of the people I talked with was Dean Barber
in Mattoon Public Works. We’re right along here Broadway Avenue, and
I want to get your comments about beautifying Broadway Avenue. It’s obviously a major street here in downtown
Mattoon. Over the next couple of years, Dean and the
public works department will continue to beautify this area. What does that mean for Mattoon and the Mattoon
businesses here to beautify Broadway Avenue? Ed:
Yeah. If you haven’t had the opportunity, it’d be
great for you to check the 1800 block of Broadway right now. They’ve done a beautiful job, the streetscaping,
the new lights, the old fashioned streetlights. And they’re going to have banners up that
welcome people to Mattoon, welcome people to the community. And they’re expanding. They’re going to the other side of the bridge
and they’ll go into the 1700 block, and it just looks so beautiful. The businesses, it’s going to be a lot safer
for people to navigate on the sidewalks, and it just makes it look beautiful. They’re going to have brick inlays in there. Rameen:
Wow. Ed:
The sidewalks are going to be all nice and clean, and like I said, safe for people to
travel on. And just going to beautify the downtown area,
and I know businesses are excited as long as we are … With the revitalization efforts
of downtown Mattoon, this is just going to enhance that and it’s going to make it so
much better. So, very exciting stuff. Rameen:
It’ll take a couple of years to do, as most projects involving public works do, but exciting
times ahead for downtown Mattoon and all the things that we’ve talked about. We’re glad to have the knowledge and information
from the executive director of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce. Ed Dowd, Ed, great having you on again. Ed:
Oh, thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure. Rameen:
Thank you very much. And coming up next here on City Spotlight,
we’ll go on location to Cole Centre and talk with Jeremy Yost of Yost Management Systems
about the things going on at Coles Centre. But first, let’s take a look at some of the
upcoming activities going on in Mattoon. [music plays] And we’re back here on City Spotlight. This episode on Mattoon, we are in the studios
of WEIU. We were hoping to be outside at the Coles
Centre development area, but mother nature intervened twice, so we were pleased to a
welcome first time to the program here in the studios of WEIU, Jeremy Yost. Jeremy:
Thank you. Rameen:
He’s the CEO of Yost enterprises. Jeremy, welcome to the program. Jeremy:
Thank you so much for having me. Rameen:
Excellent. Glad to have you on. Look forward to hearing more about the Cole
Centre development area, which Ed Dowd talked about in our first segment. We’re going to talk specifically about the
hotel and convention center that’s going up there. But before we do that, Jeremy, can you tell
our audience a little bit about yourself, please? Jeremy:
Sure. My name is Jeremy Yost, and I’m originally
from Charleston, Illinois. My family moved here in 1989 from Metropolis,
Illinois. My father, Don, opened up a bar and restaurant
banquet facility called Sticks. Ran that for a number of years. I’ve supported the community in EIU for number
of years. We truly bleed blue. Now we’ve kind of diverted from the bar business,
did many real estate ventures, and now we’re getting into hospitality, Rameen:
All right, very good. Jeremy:
Which now leads into our Hilton Garden Inn and Convention Center. Rameen:
Very good. You’ve been referenced in other communities,
City Spotlight episodes. I know Arcola, you’ve done some work there
with some residential development there. So you’ve been referenced there as contributing
outside of the Charleston, Mattoon area. Jeremy:
Yes. Rameen:
But we’re going to specifically talk about the exciting Coles Center development area
there. Ed Dowd talked about that in our first segment
here, and Ed talked a lot about the two health facilities that are being developed out there. HSHS Facility, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. We’re going to talk specifically about the
convention center and hotel with you. Before we dive into that a bunch, that land
has been there for quite a while. Anybody that passes that land area there on
route 16 just to the East of interstate 57, it took a while for that construction to get
going, didn’t it? Jeremy:
It did. This development has been in progress for
over 10 years. Rameen:
Wow. Jeremy:
My family started it with another family member many years ago, and for other reasons couldn’t
get the project to get up and going. So we ended up selling the land back to Agrisell. About 18 months ago I started redeveloping
the project, and really kicked it into high gear and was able to get things going into
place. So I revisited Agrisell and we repurchased
the land again, and was able to get everything locked up and start construction on a 102
key Hilton Garden Inn and Convention Center. Rameen:
And we’ll talk more about that brand and how significant that is to that. So again, Ed Dowd talked about it a lot in
the previous segment, specifically the two health facilities, but a hotel and convention
center. Talk about why this was needed here in the
Coles County area. Jeremy:
It’s definitely something that’s been missing for many years in Coles County. Our families firmly believed that bringing
in a hotel of this quality along with a convention center would serve as an anchor to the business
community. Many other businesses would want to follow
and come in because when you have a large hotel and convention center, you have numerous
opportunities to bring in different meetings to the area. Not just for like Lake Land Junior College
or Eastern Illinois university, but for the other businesses that serve in the community. We’ve got Rural King’s corporate headquarters
in Mattoon, Consolidated Communications, First-Mid’s corporate headquarters are in Mattoon. There’s many businesses that we can serve. Not to mention, I am sure we will be doing
business with Blue Cross Blue Shield and HSHS Medical, and we hope to partner with many
other businesses in the communities. Rameen:
We’re taping here on March 9th with Jeremy. Because of the rain and everything that was
scheduled, I already got some sunny day video that folks are seeing at home. As I was getting video of the land and everything
being built, obviously you can’t not notice the interstate traffic flowing behind everything
that’s going on there. Wow, the geographic location of it has to
be a home run. Jeremy:
Oh, it’s hands down the best spot that could be developed in Coles County. We’re just off interstate 57. We’ve got the corner lot in the Cole Centre
development area. And for the Hilton Garden Inn and Convention
Center to be where it’s at, it’s easy access off of route 16. We’re going to have a four story building
that’s just going to be immaculate, and individuals driving on 57 North or South will be able
to see it. It’ll be kind of a landmark for Mattoon. Rameen:
Exactly. A landmark, something that you notice. You mentioned the name of the hotel, and how
big a deal is that to get a name brand such as Hilton? Not that we’re doing a commercial here for
them, but to get a name brand for the hotel? Jeremy:
It’s an extremely difficult process. Hilton is, in my opinion, the number one brand
in the world when it comes to franchises. They are extremely meticulous with their paperwork
and their studies that they do to make sure you’re putting in the right product. They were very supportive of this development
first time around and obviously this time around, and it’s going to be a first-class
hotel. We’re getting the first redesign in the United
States of Hilton Garden Inn. Rameen:
Wow. Jeremy:
So that’s something that’s going to be very neat to Coles County and Mattoon. Rameen:
Right, shiny and new. What details can you tell us about how many
rooms? I think you may have mentioned already the
rooms, but the space. Jeremy:
Yes. Rameen:
What will be inside? Jeremy:
We’re going to have 102 keys, so whenever you first come in, we’re going to have a little
country store next to the check-in area for guests that are going to be staying. We’re going to have quick access to food for
them if they need it. We’ll also have a full service restaurant,
breakfast, lunch, dinner. On top of that, we’ll have a full service
bar. We’re going to be able to provide something
that’s a little different than what our area’s got now, and hopefully put a smile on everybody’s
face that comes into the hotel. Rameen:
You’ve previously talked about this wonderful project, and specifically the hotel and convention
center on previous airwaves. You talked about why this was really needed
as something for people to come and stay at. I think you talked about how Eastern Illinois
athletics, not to single out EIU, but a place for … As far as the hotel aspect is concerned,
another place for people to stay when they’re coming to either visit Charleston or Mattoon. Jeremy:
Oh, 100%. There’s not enough hotel rooms in the area,
especially for some of the teams. Not all of the teams that come in to play
Eastern or Lake Land can stay in the area. A lot of them go South to Effingham, some
of them go North to Champaign. And this is a great opportunity now to be
able to capture that and allow those teams to stay in Coles County. Closer transportation for them to and from
the games, and it’s something that we’re very excited to be able to accommodate because
it’s not been done before. Rameen:
All right. So we’ve been showing video of the development
area, a nice sunny weather video of the construction being done there with the three facilities. People probably want to know, barring any
crazy weather between now and whenever it opens, when can we expect it all to be done? Jeremy:
Sure. As long as mother nature decides to continue
to somewhat cooperate, I feel very optimistic that November, December of this year we will
be opening up the Hilton Garden Inn and McKenna/Yost convention center. Rameen:
Wonderful. We look forward to seeing that. Maybe we can get a little tour from you here
on City Spotlight of the shiny new thing to Coles County and Mattoon/Charleston area. Jeremy:
Definitely. Rameen:
Very good. In our last couple of minutes, Jeremy, thank
you for all your information on the hotel convention center that’s being constructed
over there at Cole Centre development area. Many folks at home, as you already mentioned,
your father, Don. You guys have been involved in more projects
than we can all list and probably you could list off the top of your head right now. But to be able to contribute this brand new
thing here that is being built now, and will be open hopefully by the end of the year must
bring you and your dad great pride to be adding something like this to the Coles County area. Jeremy:
It is. It’s been a dream of ours to do this project
for many, many of years. We always knew what it could bring to the
community. We’re already starting to see it now with
just the development that’s going on in the Coles Center, and to be able to do that with
my dad means the world to me. I grew up in a family of him only knowing
entrepreneurship. For me to be able to carry on that legacy
and be able to partner up and do it with him, it’s extremely cool to be able to do that
in our community. What’s also unique about the hotel and convention
center are our partner, Mike McKenna, and the development is also an EIU alum. So it’s something that’s also an EIU alum
owned hotel and convention center. Rameen:
That’s amazing how many things are tied or how many people are affiliated with Eastern
Illinois University. Jeremy Yost, CEO of Yost Enterprises. Jeremy, it’s been a pleasure having you on
City Spotlight, and we look forward to checking out your finished product hopefully at the
end of the year. Jeremy:
Thank you. Most definitely. Thank you so much for having me. Rameen:
Thank you. And thank you to all of you for joining us
here on this latest City Spotlight episode on Mattoon. We’ll see you next time. Thank you for tuning into City Spotlight. You can check out past episodes, including
the the one your watching right now, on Youtube. To check out recent episodes of Central Illinois
towns, featured on City Spotlight, search on Youtube, City Spotlight with the show number,
and the name of the town. Listed on your screen are the last five episodes
of City Spotlight. [music plays] City Spotlight is supported
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leaders in the area, as well as providing TV, Internet, and phone service for the local
homes and businesses. We live where we work, and are proud to support
the communities we serve. More information available at [music plays]

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