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About Us

CU-CitizenAccess is an online newsroom devoted to community and watchdog reporting by journalism students at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

The newsroom focuses mostly on Champaign County and central Illinois, but produces occasional regional, national and international stories.

Security footage across the street from an incident on Saturday, March 5, 2022 at 1:47 a.m. at Red Lion at 211 E Green St in Champaign. A video of the aftermath was uploaded by Harley Coleman: https://youtube.com/watch?v=8g0V2…

Police said no charges were filed, but bar owner Scott Cochrane said there would be more training for bouncers and security. 

Business

Some Champaign landlords limit use of vouchers as income, meaning it’s harder for low-income families to rent; But Urbana landlords accept vouchers

Champaign landlords are reluctant to consider federal housing vouchers as income, prompting many to not accept vouchers — but Urbana’s laws protect tenants from discrimination like that, housing offi

Champaign landlords are reluctant to consider federal housing vouchers as income, prompting many to not accept vouchers — but Urbana’s laws protect tenants from discrimination like that, housing officials said. Families living in Urbana can have their federal housing vouchers for rent counted as a source of income, meaning that it is much easier to […]

Champaign-Urbana businesses varied in reasons to take — or not to take — federal loans

A $3 million forgivable federal loan helped one local agribusiness offset rising costs, while a $100,000 loan allowed another business to simply survive.  In total, more than 4,000 businesses received about $337.8 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans throughout Champaign and Urbana. The loans were meant to help businesses keep their workers paid […]

As national labor shortage drags on, local businesses and workers suffer consequences of the “Great Resignation”

Running a business is never easy, but it’s gotten a lot harder during what’s been dubbed the “Great Resignation” – the nationwide pandemic-induced labor shortage.

Locally, many business owners aren’t sure that they’ll ever be able to bounce back. 

Latest hospital safety grades released, area hospital withholds data from national survey

One area hospital’s safety grade has declined since the pandemic began, and another withheld quality of care information from the organization.

‘Wolf in sheep’s clothing’: Cannabis workers describe pushback against unionization efforts

Ramy Akram-Ahmed, a wellness advisor at Sunnyside Cannabis Dispensary in Champaign, Illinois, made $17 an hour while the parent company of Sunnyside, Cresco Labs, made $210 million in revenue in just the second quarter of 2021. Illinois and cannabis giants like Cresco Labs are reaping the benefits of the booming cannabis industry, but workers like […]

Out of town business receives millions in PPP relief money from local bank

In April 2020, the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) began to give out loans via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). By the end of the program, over 4,000 businesses in Champaign-Urbana received forgivable loans, according to SBA data. Among those thousands is a company called 42 Lines. Despite receiving funds in Champaign, the business isn’t headquartered […]

Historic Urbana-Lincoln Hotel to welcome guests next year after numerous failed attempts to reopen

It has been an arduous journey since the early 2000s for the Urbana-Lincoln Hotel. There have been at least 7 different owners, 5 name changes, and millions of dollars in renovations and selling costs. 

Both city officials and the new owner, Icon Hospitality, LLC, are now confident the hotel will not only successfully open in late 2022 but will bring in significant revenue.

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