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ISU students in Uptown Normal

Illinois State University students hang out in nearby Uptown Normal.

Study: Illinois State’s hometown great for young college graduates

Illinois State University’s hometown of Bloomington-Normal is one of the top destinations in the U.S. where young college graduates want to live and work, according to a new study.

The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) ranked 260 metropolitan areas based on nine economic and quality-of-life factors, such as arts and entertainment venues, average rent, and the number of restaurants.

“A charming college town with Midwest character, Bloomington-Normal ranked high for its affordable rent and hipster-cool music venues.” —The Huffington Post

Bloomington-Normal ranked No. 3 among the smallest communities (fewer than 250,000 residents), up four spots from its 2015 ranking. Here’s what AIER had to say about Bloomington-Normal:

“It’s a hub of activity surrounded on all sides by rolling green farmland. It ranks among the top of smallest cities in arts and entertainment, with venues like the Castle Theatre and the Connie Link Amphitheatre, and a number of art studios. The home of Illinois State University also holds economic appeal to young professionals with the second lowest rents, as well as relatively high earnings.”

Bloomington-Normal was also featured in the The Huffington Post’s recap of the rankings:

“A charming college town with Midwest character, Bloomington-Normal ranked high for its affordable rent and hipster-cool music venues. It’s a cozy, manageable, friendly place to call home.”

Illinois State is located in Normal, part of a Twin City community along with Bloomington. Together, Bloomington-Normal is home to two central business districts (Uptown Normal and Downtown Bloomington) and the headquarters for State Farm Insurance and Country Financial. Among the many parks and recreation opportunities is the beautiful Constitution Trail, which covers more than 24 miles.

Bloomington-Normal’s quality of life, attractions, and events are consistently regarded as among the best in the nation, according to the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Founded in 1933, AIER is a donor-based, nonprofit economic research organization.

“The young and well-educated are moving to places where they’ll find a big contingent of the population that share these characteristics,” Amanda Knarr, program coordinator at AIER, said in a statement about the new rankings. “Civic leaders seeking to attract college-educated Millennials and the businesses that employ them will want to emphasize their demographic profile.”