URBANA, Ill. - University of Illinois Extension’s Community and Economic Development team is making statewide outreach efforts in offering two local government education webinars that will focus on communities facing coal plant closures, and their economic, as well as environmental, implications and opportunities. The first webinar, on Thursday, November 21, at Noon CST, is entitled Ready to Diversify: Lessons Learned from Coal Communities Across the Country, and will look at other US communities who are pursuing economic diversification opportunities have become better positioned to thrive. Presenters Brett Schwartz, Program Manager for the National Association of Counties (NACo), and Jack Morgan, Associate Director, National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation will give an overview on how rural coal-reliant communities in the West and in Appalachia are approaching workforce development and retraining, entrepreneurship, outdoor recreation, cultural heritage, renewable energy, and more.  Both presenters have spent the past five years visiting and collaborating with coal-reliant counties and regions as they work to build stronger economies by tapping into local assets and strengths.

The second webinar, on Thursday, December 12, at Noon CST, is entitled Economic Impact of Plant Mine Closures & Making the Case for Renewables and will focus on the economic impact of plant and mine closures and the potential for revenue generation and energy independence that results from solar and wind. Seth Feaster, Energy Data Analyst, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), will describe the changing energy picture in Illinois and talk about how Illinois communities can embrace renewables, set up ordinances, generate revenue and move towards energy independence. University of Illinois Extension is excited to host these presentations on our local government education webinar platform, and encourage all interested to register for both by visiting https://go.illinois.edu/LGE and selecting the registration links for November 21 and December 12.