URBANA, Ill. – As communities and regions across the country address the impacts caused by the downturn in the coal industry, places that are actively pursuing economic diversification opportunities have become better positioned to take on the challenges that lie ahead. Coal-reliant communities in Illinois are invited to learn about workforce development, entrepreneurship and more with the Illinois Extension Local Government Education fall webinar Ready to Diversify: Lessons Learned from Coal Communities Across the Country

This free webinar from noon to 1 p.m. CST Thursday, November 21 is aimed at government officials and administrators. Please register in advance online. Jack Morgan, with the National Association of Counties, and Brett Schwartz, with the NADO Research Foundation, will cover how rural coal-reliant communities in the West and Appalachia regions are setting a new course in a variety of ways, including through workforce retraining, outdoor recreation, cultural heritage, renewable energy, and more.  

Morgan and Schwartz 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. While every place is unique with its own set of challenges and opportunities, these case studies can serve as inspiration for communities across the country as they explore ways to create a more prosperous future. 

For more information, contact Extension Community Economic Development Specialist Lisa Merrifield at lmorrisn@illinois.edu.

Jack Morgan works as a Program Manager in NACo's Community, Economic and Workforce Development practice area. He handles community and economic development, resilience and transportation grants and programs.  Jack previously served as a Policy Analyst at Friends of Southwest Virginia, where he focused on economic development and tourism programs. He holds an M.A. in Geography from Appalachian State University and a B.A. from Emory & Henry College. 

Brett Schwartz manages the NADO Research Foundation’s economic resilience and diversification training portfolio, including the Stronger CEDS, Stronger Regions program and the economic diversification in coal communities program. He has experience at the state and federal level promoting community and economic development in a range of settings. Brett is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law where he focused on land use issues. He also holds degrees from Georgetown University and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

University of Illinois Extension's Local Government Education program helps elected and appointed government officials and administrators from across the state improve their knowledge and skills through professional development opportunities. Participants benefit from the advanced instruction and broad expertise that instructors bring to all our programming. In 2018, 1500 local government officials learned through webinars and program recordings. Subscribe to receive updates and registration information for all future webinars.

University of Illinois Extension is part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.