Jacksonville, Illinois (pop. 23,000) is an economically and culturally vibrant town about 30 miles west of Springfield, Illinois, and 85 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri.

Formed more than 175 years ago, Jacksonville is one of the oldest towns in Illinois and boasts a rich history. The home to three of the state's early governors, Jacksonville's neighborhoods of historic homes are on streets canopied with trees. It was a junction on the Underground Railroad and offers several related historic sites. Jacksonville contains the only Illinois executive mansion outside Springfield and was home to the state's first public high school.

MacMurray College is within walking distance of the downtown area, which is seeing a renewed life after a multimillion-dollar renovation of the square and many of its buildings. The area is establishing itself as a collection of interesting small shops, services, restaurants, caf├ęs and other entertainment venues.

Jacksonville's three colleges — MacMurray, Illinois College and a campus of Lincoln Land Community College — attract an array of arts, entertainment and cultural events each year. Despite its modest size, Jacksonville is home to a symphony orchestra and an art museum housed in an ornate, Victorian mansion.

The economy is a resilient mix of higher education, manufacturing, retail, banking and other financial services, small businesses and facilities of Fortune 500 companies. The surrounding area boasts some of the richest farmland in the nation. The people retain core Midwestern values, including a civic volunteerism that is second to none.

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