Illinois communities no longer simply function in regional or the national economies – it is a global economy and competitors for customers and jobs are in every corner of the planet. Community and Economic Development Extension Educators recognize these implications and are focused on developing sustainable community and county-based economic development systems that prepare communities to thrive and grow in this highly competitive environment. Our educators help counties, communities, and local residents identify strategies to create new businesses instead of simply trying to attract new jobs from another location. Programs include training for new or prospective entrepreneurs, business and market analysis, assistance with the implementation of “buy local” programs, and training in customer service and social media for local businesses and organizations.

  • Developing Resilient Downtowns: Provides a variety of learning experiences which inform successful downtown business development initiatives, and creates learning partnerships with public and private organizations.
  • Small Business Education: Helps business owners and managers identify and use new tools, technologies and strategies to improve business performance.
  • On the Front Line for Customer Service: Provides information and skill development for improved customer service.
  • Downtown Business and Market Analysis: Designed to help local business leaders, entrepreneurs, developers and economic development professionals understand the changing marketplace and identify realistic business opportunities.
  • Building Entrepreneurial Communities Blog: Strategies for Strengthening Local Economies
  • International Trade for Business Development: Gathers experts from state and federal agencies to teach business owners and managers about the international trade process. Business owners prepare to compete worldwide to benefit the local economy.
  • More Resources for Building Entrepreneurial Communities: This resource is a tool for rural community leaders in western Illinois and across the state. It is a place for us to share what we have learned about creating entrepreneurial communities and to celebrate what the pilot communities in western Illinois have accomplished in the past.


Contact a Local Community and Economic Development Extension Professional to inquire about programming available to you and your community.