I've been reading through Carbondale: A Pictorial History by Betsy Mitchell, published back in 1991 (reprinted in 2001). This passage, describing the Carbondale of 1990, could just as easily depict the Carbondale of today:
Many long established businesses have moved from the square to the new outlying shopping areas and many of the early (downtown) buildings have been demolished. The population increased hardly at all form 1980 to 1990. The community seems to have settled into a peaceful co-existence with the University, with commercialism, in spite of efforts to bring in industry, primarily centering around the medical profession and the retail trade. In fact, most of the growth of the 1980s was in these two areas.
As WSIU's recent interviews with the mayoral candidates indicate, Carbondale still sees its growth coming from the medical area and chain retailers such as T. J. Maxx, Chilis, and Party City. It's an unfortunate commentary on the city's economic base that Carbondale still depends on the same wealth drivers that supported it 25 years ago.