'Forgotten Illinois' highlights Metropolis' need to grow, thrive
Illinois is the home to many vibrant cities, but there are towns and villages that seem to have been left behind, according to the latest installment of "Forgotten Illinois."
Joe Kaiser, a writer for the Illinois Policy Institute, highlighted the town of Metropolis in a video presentation on YouTube and interviewed business owners in that town that are calling for more jobs, more industry and more citizens to make the area as thriving as possible.
One of those interviewed was Jim Hambric, who founded The Super Museum, a site devoted to the link between Superman and the city.
“Superman created a positiveness in me,” said Hambric, who says the real-life town of Metropolis is a hidden gem along the Chicago River.
There are other business people who also support the notion of growing Metropolis. Lori and William Nichols own a bed and breakfast, Summer’s Riverview Mansion, in Metropolis.
“I love taking care of the people,” Lori Nichols said. She said once people stay there, and can enjoy the small town feel and comforts of the inn; they are content. “They say, ‘I am so glad we found you,’” she added.
The benefits of the small town are numerous. For one, people can talk to the mayor on a first-name basis, Nichols said. While townspeople like Lori enjoy the quaintness of Metropolis, many want to grow the community and make it an even better place than it is, she said.
“We have to grow and offer more of the things that people are expecting,” Nichols said. “We need to bring industry here and bring jobs here.
Lori’s husband, William, a former history teacher, explained that the area shows life from 2,000 years ago.
"We do know they were hunters and gatherers,” he said. Later, what drew people is that there is a natural break in the river to the northeast and this would slow down boat traffic. People could pull their boat in from the river and walk up the riverbank, he said.
According to Kaiser, the Metropolis area has watched a slow leak of citizens, losing 2,000 people to Kentucky in 2015 alone. This has led to lackluster business and lost opportunities for the citizens, said the video mini-documentary.
Charlie Eichorn, the owner of Charlie’s Party Hut, says that the lack of businesses and no growth would stop him from putting down roots if he had to do it all again.
“If I was a young man, I would (fill) my car up with gas and drive until it run out, and fill it up one more time and wherever it run out that’s where I would land,” he said.
Eichorn sees parts of the state as needing a major growth infusion.
“Illinois has the southern part ... struggling, we’ve got the middle part of the state, then we have Chicago,” Eichorn said in the video. “We are actually three states in one.”