URBANA, Ill. – Rural communities facing economic challenges and population decline not only care about taxes, length of commutes, employment opportunities, and housing affordability but also seek to preserve the lifestyle and atmosphere that make their community special. Development in rural areas brings opportunity, but without collaborative planning, progress can alienate and inconvenience the very residents who live there.

Smart Growth is an intentional, collaborative policy and planning concept rural communities can adopt to develop meaningful solutions that truly fit their unique and specific wants and needs. Smart Growth strategies embrace community identity, preserve agricultural and natural areas, and protect valued assets while creating fiscally and socially responsible opportunities in housing, employment, transportation, infrastructure, and amenities.

On June 3 at noon, rural community stakeholders will learn Smart Growth principles and ways to implement them into community planning in a free online event co-hosted by University of Illinois Extension and Rural Partners.

Presenters include Mim Evans, senior research associate at the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University; Derek Hiland, deputy county administrator and director of the DeKalb County Community Development Department; and Jolene Willis, economic development coordinator for DeKalb County.

Advance registration is required to attend the online event. Register at go.illinois.edu/SmartGrowthStrategy.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in the online session, contact organizer Mike Delany at mdelany2@illinois.edu. Early requests are strongly encouraged.

SOURCENancy Ouedraogo, Community and Economic Development Regional Specialist, University of Illinois Extension

SOURCEMike Delany, Community and Economic Development Educator, University of Illinois Extension

WRITERLiz Smith, Media Communications Specialist, University of Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.