Independent business owners in Princeton are raising money to clean and restore a landmark monument in Bureau County.
The decorative siding is a sign of the new life going into old English-Lutheran Church on North Main Street in Princeton.
Mike Anderson bought the 107-year-old building two months ago for $60,000. Anderson says he's spending twice that amount renovating its' seven-thousand square feet for commercial office space. He moved his family here three years ago from Reno, Nevada and is an example of the new entrepreneurs coming to town.
"I think a lot of people want to get out of the city to get to a more rural life. These are friendly people. It is an easygoing atmosphere. You never hear about crime here."
Anderson's sister, Tammy, just built a new storage business in town. She moved here from Joliet last August.
Tammy Bauer said, "We believe we are on the ground floor of big things to come here."
Princeton has a vibrant downtown. Land and housing cost are still affordable and residents like to talk about their good schools. Economists say those are the fundamental ingredients for a strong local economy and quality of life.
Mike and Tammy can count on soon being recruited to join the Princeton Independent Business Alliance. This new organization, with 17 members, announced Monday plans to raise $2,500 to clean and restore the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. Almost a century old, the Civil War monument is in need of repair. One of the independent business alliances' founding members, LuAnne Salz, says the time is right for successful entrepreneur to give back to the people who support them.
"You have to give back to be a real member of a community."
Princeton, Illinois, is a good example of what's happening in many small towns across America. As we leave the big city, and shopping mall, and strip mall, for Main Street.