Farm field

There is a lot of discussion surrounding the Agricultural Economy right now and its potential impact on both farmers and rural communities.  In late summer 2019, the American Bankers Association and Farmer Mac collaborated on a survey.  Over 450 bank managers, executives and Ag Lenders participated from across the nation.  Bank size ranged from under $50 Million in assets to over $5 Billion.

Right of way raingarden view. Rendering by Gabriel Harper-Hagen

Many of us are willing to do something different with our front yards if it results in a positive environmental impact, according to a survey by the Extension CED Sustainable Communities team.

Right of way raingarden view

During the summer of 2019, the University of Illinois Extension Community and Economic Development team hosted two undergraduate Extension interns. Gabe Harper-Hagen and Rhea Bridgeland were funded through the Extension Internship Experience that pairs talented undergraduates with Extension professionals to work on an applied project over a 10-week period. Gabe and Rhea worked with CED Extension Specialist Lisa Merrifield and partnered with ANR Specialist Eliana Brown. City of Urbana Sustainability & Resilience Officer Scott Tess served as an advisor and a resource for pilot sites.

By Susan Odum, Extension Educator, Community Development and Planning

In an October 2018 Report, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) outlined the complex issues surrounding taxation of remote sales, including Supreme Court rulings that set precedent on remote sales tax policy for decades. As a result, an ever-growing volume of sales tax went uncollected, resulting in billions of dollars that states and local governments do without each fiscal year.

You probably don't think Illinois has much to offer in the natural resource department. We don't have soaring mountains or endless oceans, but Illinois's natural resources probably impact your life more than you think.

Startling facts show that many local businesses and livelihoods will not recover from a catastrophe. It's not because they don't want to, it's because the task is huge. Planning to survive and being prepared go a long way towards improving the odds of re-opening and money flowing. Along with a written, recovery playbook, talk to family, insurance providers, first responders and employees about this serious topic. They all need to help plan, plus understand responsibilities and details.

This summer, communities in Illinois with coal plants or mines will have a unique opportunity to imagine a future with alternative energy – to reimagine their communities after coal mining. The conference, Climate Economy in Southern Illinois – Creating Resilient Businesses, Jobs, and Communities, will be held in Carbondale on June 12-13, 2019. The conference is for city and county governments, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested to discuss how to maintain, reimagine, and/or rebuild our rural economies.

Assessing Downtown Canton report represents a collaborative effort between Illinois Main Street, Canton Main Street, Uni­versity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois Extension. The assessment was conducted to provide technical assis­tance for revitalization efforts in Canton, Illinois. The analysis was utilized to guide downtown economic development initiatives.

By: Delayne Weston

In small towns and rural counties, with part time staff and limited resources, it can be tough to coordinate community and economic development initiatives. Mercer County, Illinois, was no exception. Communities across the county were pursuing goals and projects independently and had not considered cooperating to leverage resources and share costs.

"My dream is to compete in the Olympics!"

Tiffany Macke, Community and Economic Development Educator for University of Illinois Extension, led her Collaborative Leadership class through the 100 Dreams Inventory. This exercise, from her iDREAM Project, helps students use dreaming and goal-setting to navigate career and life goals. Macke encourages serious dreams along with silly, crazy, seemingly unattainable dreams. Eitan Troyansky, a student in her spring 2018 class, said one of his silly dreams was to try out for the Israeli Bobsled Team and compete in the Olympics.

Throughout the Midwest, there are examples of thriving central business districts. University of Illinois Extension in partnership with the University of Illinois Department of Urban and Regional Planning conducted a literature review to identify common strategies and attributes of successful downtowns in small cities.
The team conducting the review was comprised of faculty advisor Dr.

By: Delayne Weston

Are you curious about using social media to grow your business? According to sproutsocial, a social media software business, people are "57% more likely to buy from a brand they follow" on social media. But where do you start and what do you need to know? Keep reading to find out.

Why should you have a social media presence?

I have been working with communities and creative entrepreneurs across Illinois since 2010 to assist them in developing creative-based economies. During that time, economic impact data for the creative sector has been difficult to find for both urban and rural communities. Especially in Illinois, where tourism data was last published in 2014, due to the state budget impasse. Until now, information on the impact of the creative sector in rural communities has been almost non-existent.

"Create a culture of entrepreneurship – an ecosystem in which startup and job growth can thrive. America is loaded with talent. It has always been our greatest strength. And that talent is spread across the county – in rural areas as well as urban." Macke (2018)

Everyone has read about brick & mortar retail stores failing in recent months. Many of the major chains are seeing falling sales and stock prices as Amazon and other on-line shopping sites are winning their customers' attention.