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Macomb, Home of WIU, Named Good Small Town to Live by Realtor.com

The recent recognition by Realtor.com naming Macomb, Illinois among the “Top 10 Affordable Small Towns Where You’d Actually Want To Live” showcases the west-central Illinois gem, which has been home to Western Illinois University since 1899.

Macomb is listed as number four on the 2022 Realtor.com list, which was based, at least partially, on the average cost of a median home locally (listed as $56,750). Realtor.com shared, “The college town, home to Spoon River College and Western Illinois University, is about 60 miles west of Peoria and 128 miles north of St. Louis. While it’s not exactly a close trip to any major cities, there’s plenty to do right around town with multiple state parks and a historic downtown square surrounded by shops and restaurants. The city is also home to the Western Illinois Museum. Buyers can find great homes here for a fraction of the cost in nearby metros.” (https://bit.ly/3xTcrF1)

“People moving to small towns have found is a whole new world of opportunities—places with cheaper and more spacious real estate, picture-perfect town squares, walkable downtowns, good jobs, easy access to outdoor activities, and even plenty of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options,” Realtor.com noted on its website.

Western Illinois University and the City of Macomb, and its many organizations such as the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce, the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the NAACP, the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation (MAEDCO) and several others, work together to improve the city’s quality of life for existing residents and to attract new residents and students to town and to campus.

“It is essential for our host communities to work closely with our institution for the betterment of the region and beyond, and to ensure a welcoming, diverse and safe environment for our students, faculty, staff, and guests,” noted WIU President Guiyou Huang. “My family and I joined the Macomb community as full-time residents over a year ago when I started my term as WIU’s 12th president, and we truly enjoy living in west-central Illinois. The school system has treated our daughter well, and we have made friends in the community. I’m pleased that Macomb is recognized for the charming small town it is and that we’re a part of what it has to offer.”

WIU’s Macomb campus is the educational, cultural and athletic center of the region. Each year, 12 major theatrical and dance productions and studio shows are performed, along with outstanding concerts, lectures, presentations, films, dance performances and more. The Gwendolyn Brooks and Casa Latina cultural centers offer programs and activities focusing on Black and Hispanic cultures, while the Women’s Center promotes gender equity through education, support and advocacy. WIU’s student organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and ally (LGBTQ*A) community provides resources, support and programming.

The University’s athletics program, based on the Macomb campus, sponsors 17 NCAA Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s varsity sports. Football competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision through the Missouri Valley Football Conference; all other varsity sports compete at the Division I level through The Summit League.

WIU Libraries house extensive collections and provide regional archives, research assistance, lectures and special events. The main library, the Leslie F. Malpass Library in Macomb, provides an inviting environment for research and study, and the Malpass Library Archives and Special Collections houses a treasure trove of University, community and regional history, including several special collections, such as the Center for Hancock County History, including the Mormon Collection, and a number of Civil War manuscripts.

In addition, the University provides the use of its facilities, like the University Union, Western Hall and Horn Field Campus, to regional organizations to enhance the ability to attract events to the region, such as the Macomb Balloon Rally and the Macomb Holiday Basketball Tournament.

“We want to be good community partners,” Huang added. “Allowing groups to use our facilities for their events and programs not only provides outstanding opportunities for tourism within our region, it allows us to showcase our wonderful university and all that we have to offer.”

University and city leaders work together on economic development efforts, including attracting new business and industry to the Macomb and McDonough County region. Huang sits on the MAEDCO Board, WIU is a member of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce and the University works closely with Macomb’s Downtown Development office. Students, faculty and staff often lend a hand volunteering at community events, such as Heritage Days, Juneteenth and more.

“We’re grateful for the Realtor.com ranking, which is the second in six years. Our efforts at making Macomb both an affordable and desirable place to live have been recognized, and we appreciate that,” Mayor Mike Inman noted. “We have many community partners working together to make Macomb a great place to live, work and play, and one of our strongest assets if that we are the home of Western Illinois University.”

Inman added other important factors that make Macomb more attractive to new residents and businesses, as well to students, are the many cultural and recreational opportunities, many which are run by WIU alumni, including the Macomb Park District and Spring Lake Park. In addition, Western’s Horn Field Campus provides affordable, and accessible, recreational opportunities to residents and visitors.

The Chamber and Downtown Development Office partner with Western for its Discover Western programs, where prospective students and their families visit Western to determine if the institution is a good fit. A large part of that is the community aspect, noted Lauren Merritt, executive director of the Macomb Area Chamber.

“Macomb is filled with many friendly and welcoming people,” Merritt added. “Visit any of our local shops or restaurants and you are always met with a smile and a wave, making new residents, students and visitors feel like they’ve always been a part of our community.”

In addition to the amenities provided at WIU and in Macomb, a large draw for students and residents is the twice daily Amtrak service from Macomb to Chicago (and points in between).

“For more than 123 years, since Macomb was selected as the site for Western Illinois University, our institution has been an integral part of this community and this region,” Huang added. “We look forward to many more years of a productive and positive partnership that continues to serve our students, faculty, staff, residents and guests well, and ensuring a welcoming, safe and inclusive community for all.”

For more information about the opportunities available at Western, visit wiu.edu. For more about Macomb, visit makeitmacomb.commacombareachamber.com and cityofmacomb.com.

***Courtesy of Western Illinois University***

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