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Campus Engagement in Our Unit

Greater Peoria Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) collaborated with the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council and University of Illinois Extension during this past year as part of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) planning process.

The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy is a document led by the public sector that focuses on synthesizing information so as to better inform public sector strategies and actions. Throughout the 2019-2020 academic year Lee Arum, DURP and Kathie Brown, Community and Economic Development educator serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties, were active partners in this planning process. Economic development planning – as implemented through the CEDS – is not only a cornerstone of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) programs, but successfully serves as a means to engage community leaders, leverage the involvement of the private sector, and establish a strategic blueprint for regional collaboration. 

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy development provides a vehicle for individuals, organizations, local governments, institutes of learning, and private industry to engage in a meaningful conversation and debate about what capacity building efforts would best serve economic development in the region. The planning process in the Greater Peoria region included bimonthly steering committee meetings, BIG Table discussions in rural communities throughout the region as well as working groups in each of the key strategic areas – Economy, Workforce, Quality of Life, Natural Resources.

The CEDS encompasses and evaluates the previous economic development plans of the region and discusses future broad strategies and specific actions of importance to the regional economy.

The CEDS planning effort is funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.Regions are required to update their CEDS at least every five years to qualify for EDA funding under its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. Additionally, a CEDS is a prerequisite for designation by EDA as an Economic Development District (EDD). The result of this process is a comprehensive evaluation of the regional economy as well as the next steps that can be taken to increase economic growth.

2021-2025 Greater Peoria Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy report


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.