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Campus Engagement in Our Unit

Assessing Downtown Canton

Assessing Downtown Canton report represents a collaborative effort between Canton Main Street, Uni­versity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois Extension. The assessment was conducted in the sum­mer of 2014 to provide technical assis­tance for revitalization efforts in Canton, Illinois. The analysis was utilized to guide downtown economic development initiatives.

The assessment has three parts. The first part analyses the issues and challenges Canton faces by looking into some key demographics. The sec­ond part conducts a downtown market analysis to gauge the possibilities of revitalization based on a retail focus.The market analysis uses a retail assessment framework developed by University of Minnesota Extension, Ohio State University Extension, and University of Wiscon­sin-Extension. The market analysis draws upon quantitative and qualitative approaches to identi­fy retail expansion and recruitment opportunities for Downtown Canton.

The third part of this study explores the possibil­ities of revitalizing Downtown Canton by look­ing at factors that influence the retail market. This part was the focus of the summer workshop course where students focused on a number of variables responsible for making a downtown more resilient. The assessment for resiliency fol­lowed a framework introduced by Michael Bu­rayidi in his book Resilient Downtowns – A New Approach to Revitalizing Small- and Medium-City Downtowns. This includes exploring the possi­bilities of improvements in retail development, downtown living, immigration, heritage and cul­tural tourism, civic and cultural amenities, down­town design, and leadership and partnerships.

Assessing Downtown Canton


As a community and economic development educator, Kathie Brown worked with community leaders, government officials, volunteer groups, small business owners, and others to help communities become stronger and more economically viable. She focused on leadership and organizational development; local government education and relations; economic development strategies; participatory community planning/visioning processes; group process facilitation; collaboration and partnership building; public issue education; and understanding, using and developing data.

Prior to retirement in 2021, Brown worked with organizations and local governments to help them: (1) analyze and understand their needs, (2) identify alternative courses of action, (3) make informed decisions, (4) plan for the future and (5) evaluate their development efforts.

Kathie worked for Extension for almost 40 years, contributing to programs related to community health, digital literacy, STEAM education, and more.