As Inept as Illini 2006 Football

Letter published in News-Gazette 02 Oct 2006

Urbana’s citizenry can certainly empathize with the hapless Illinois football team.

After three quarters in three of its September games, the Illini were losing by scores of 33-0, 31-7 and 21-0. In the last two of these games, Illinois mustered an inconsequential fourth quarter rally. Urbana has similarly fallen hopelessly behind its rivals in economic growth. Consider the location of new members of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce the last three months as reported in the Chamber’s July through September News-Gazette supplements: Champaign 26; Urbana 2, Mahomet 3.

Urbana is now in the midst of an inconsequential rally: Wal-Mart, and new retail development at University and Cunningham, but this is dwarfed compared to the past 20 years’ developments in Champaign and Savoy.

But the rally seems short-lived. On July 25, a bank announced it would close an Urbana branch to consolidate in Champaign. On Sep 1, another bank announced construction of a new Champaign branch. On Sep 2, Champaign voted to expand a northwest enterprise zone by 236 acres for commercial use-to include the new 25 acre Christie Clinic and a possible hotel and convention center. The 16 Sep News-Gazette quoted an out-of-town developer, seeking to build 208 new Champaign housing units: “We’ve been looking at Champaign for four or five years minimum.”

Concerning economic development and businesses helpful to families (e.g. movie theaters, specialty retailers) Urbana will remain a “bozo” for many years to come.

Michael Fuerst


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