Census data shows Champaign as fastest growing city in Illinois
Those who live outside of Champaign may think of it as a college town, but City Developers say the city has much more to offer, between its agriculture, tech and medical fields.
Hamilton Walker's restaurant opened its doors last December and managers say it's taken off. General Manager Eric Feltman says the investors thought it was just the thing Champaign needed.
"They were sitting at an Ilini game and they said wouldn't it be great to go out and have a big city steak house experience here in our home town,” Felman said. “And this is how Hamilton Walker's came into being.
City Developers say people from big cities are choosing Champaign to call their new home and they've seen a boom in the housing market. On top of that, Champaign has several strong industries attracting new businesses.
"The medical field continues to be strong of course,” T.J. Blakeman said, City of Champaign Senior Planner for Economic Development. “All of the affiliated uses with education, logistics and transportation, agriculture, manufacturing. They all seem to be very strong right now."
U.S. Census Data shows Champaign growing 1.2 percent over a one year period, which may not seem like much, but City Developers say that steady growth allows them to maintain the city as it grows.
"The tax base over a larger population, which helps us to maintain the city in good order and continue to be able to provide programming and services to the residents,” Blakeman said.
Business leaders are optimistic that Champaign has an even brighter future.
"Champaign has tremendous growth potential,” Felman said. “And we see that over the next five to ten years, that we'll just become bigger, but maintaining that small, hometown appeal."