Champaign is a thriving, business-friendly community that’s a great college town as well as a great place for graduates and young families. With a high employment rate for graduates, a great start-up and entrepreneurial culture, world-class fine arts and a food scene that’s been named Best in the Midwest, it’s easy to see why folks who come here don’t seem to want to leave.
Top Industries and Employers: Home to the state’s flagship university, about a quarter of the workforce is in education services, including companies like Herff Jones, which creates yearbooks, class rings and graduation regalia. Research and technology innovation, often tied to the university, is thriving. There’s also a small recording industry here and a number of Fortune 500 companies
Best Local Beer/Brewery: It’s almost impossible to find something to dislike about Triptych Brewing. Even their styles of beers you normally don’t like will go down smoothly and have you rethinking everything you thought about your beer choices.
Must-Have Meal: The Diner Stack at Merry Ann’s is local legend, and at just $7, an absolute steal. Not for the faint of heart, it’s a known hangover cure of hash browns topped with cheese, hamburger or sausage patties, two eggs, and smothered with sausage gravy. Add a biscuit for $1. Trust us.
Best Co-Working Space: Launch at the Library is a walk-in co-working space focused on entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Watson’s Shack and Rail for adult slushies
Creative Hub: 40 North fosters collaboration, community, creativity and advocacy for the Champaign arts, culture and entertainment community.
Free Way to Have Fun: The Champaign County Forest Preserve District has museums, lakes, hiking trails, a gorgeous natural playscape and more. They also have an International Dark Sky Park, a great place to stargaze.
Local Dream Job: Altgeld Hall Chimesmaster. Who wouldn’t want to get to be in charge of the iconic bells and get to choose what songs get played at the daily concert?
- Nicole Haase