For the Illinois village previously known as Rantoul see Alma, Illinois Rantoul is a village in Champaign County, Illinois, United States. The population was 12,918 at the 2000 census; however, by 2007 it had shrunk to 12,402. The present mayor is Neal Williams, who was re-elected in 2009. The community was named after Robert Rantoul, director of the Illinois Central Railroad. In 1917, Rantoul was chosen to be the site of the Chanute Field due to its proximity to the Illinois Central railroad and the War Department’s ground school housed at the University of Illinois. In the 1930s, Chanute grew, dominating the local economy as thousands of Airmen were stationed there to train new recruits who cycled in and out. Renamed Chanute Air Force Base after World War II, the base was closed in 1993, and partly reoccupied by the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum and the Rantoul National Aviation Center. The major employers in Rantoul are C.I. Telecom, JELD-WEN, Bell Sports, Bell Racing, Combe Laboratories, Eagle Wings Ind. , Conair Corporation, Microfilm Service, AT&T, and Pactuco.