Community and Economic Development Programs
Community Leadership Development
Communities face a host of issues that demand leadership in the midst of increasing complexity. Community organizations and political subdivisions such as cities, school districts, library boards, and counties struggle to find qualified residents to serve as council, board and commission members, and it is critical that leaders understand external forces that affect the community. These include the devolution of authority for action and service delivery to the community; the double bind created by trying to maintain quality and services with fewer resources; expectations for sharing power and responsibility; interdependence, diversity, collaboration, and communication; and displacement of the developmental paradigm with the globalization paradigm. Research indicates that building leadership capacity among community leaders and elected officials is critical to community viability and sustainability.
Statewide Program Examples
Participatory Community Planning
Communities need assistance to identify strategies to address the rapidly changing social and economic landscape. Participatory planning empowers community members to take charge of their futures by analyzing and addressing quality of life and infrastructure issues. Research indicates that these community planning efforts are better when all sectors of the community are included and decision making is inclusive and broad-based.
Statewide Program Examples
The quality of information available to community decision makers and public and private non-profit organizations has a significant effect on the vitality of communities. Increasing the capacity of local decision-makers through Extension programming will enhance community vitality and improve the quality of life in rural and urban areas. Addressing issues that are critical to organizational development occurs through various Extension programs, including facilitation, skills training, managing projects, and understanding data.
Statewide Program Example
Community Economic Development
Illinois communities are struggling to create a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing global economy. They must identify and implement new strategies to assure continued survival and prominence in the U.S. economy. These strategies must be consistent with their vision for their future. Support for existing businesses, including agriculture, is important in linking community initiatives to economic development. Building a cadre of local officials who understand their role in economic development has also been emphasized as part of our programming.