University News

WIU Community Responds to Survey about Macomb's Downtown Square

November 1, 2010

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MACOMB, IL -- Are you wondering who won the $100 Macomb Chamber of Commerce gift certificate? If you're a member of the Western Illinois University community, you likely recently responded to (or at least read about) a survey you received in your WIU e-mail inbox. Responding to that survey provided a chance for students, faculty and staff to win the $100 Macomb Chamber of Commerce gift certificate. The project behind the survey also provided four Western Illinois University graduate students with an opportunity to conduct research in the area of community development.

The four students -- Jennifer Chancay (Macomb, IL), Yemiymah Yisra'el (Chicago, IL), Marwan Alssadek (Tripoli, Libya) and Leo Dion (Galesburg, IL) -- are taking John Gruidl's Economics 535 Small Community Development course this semester. All except Alssadek are Peace Corps Fellows and AmeriCorps members, who are enrolled at WIU through Western's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development. Gruidl, a professor in the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs who also teaches in WIU's economics department, helped guide the students through the research project. The survey asked respondents to consider questions related to businesses and possible business opportunities for Macomb's downtown square, which surrounds the McDonough County Courthouse in downtown Macomb.

According to Dion, the survey's implementation came about as part of a project in the class with Gruidl, which is a required course for graduate students enrolled at Western through the Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development, a unit of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at WIU.

"There are several organizations in the area that partner with Professor Gruidl to provide students with hands-on experience. The Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Development Corporation is one of them," Dion explained. "The survey was designed around input from the Chamber, and the idea for selecting WIU students, faculty and staff as the sample group came out of discussions with Penny Lawyer, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Development Corporation. The businesses on the Macomb Square are looking to provide better services to, and to draw out more Western students, faculty and staff," he said.

Dion said the survey was distributed using WIU's TeleStars mass e-mail service at the end of September and the beginning of October. He noted that it garnered a total of 1,523 responses.

According to Dion, 70 percent of respondents indicated they strongly agreed or agreed they like the look and feel of Macomb's downtown square. Most notably, he said, 80 percent of the respondents indicated they think businesses should stay open past 5 p.m.

"That 80 percent response rate about the desire for businesses to stay open past 5 p.m. was not expected," he said. "The survey results indicated that 59.6 percent of the responses came from students, and the other 37.2 percent came from faculty and staff. The other 1.2 percent did not indicate if they were students or faculty/staff members. In terms of gender, the respondents indicated that 64.3 percent of them are female and 34.3 percent are male," Dion said.

"We feel it provided a good sense of the types of businesses that WIU affiliates would like to see open on the square. The top four business possibilities selected were bakery, shoe store, women's clothing store and natural food store. The top four restaurants selected included bakery, late-night eatery, ice cream shop and barbeque. There is a strong consensus that a bakery is desirable in downtown Macomb," he added.

According to Dion, the possible respondents were provided with an incentive to take the survey -- the $100 Macomb Chamber of Commerce gift certificate. And if you're still wondering who won it… It was Meghan Vance, a senior business major from Crystal Lake (IL).

For more information about the survey and the results, contact Yemiymah Yisra'el at Learn more about WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development at

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing