Profile picture of Richard Proffer, new Extension community and economic development educator

University of Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit is pleased to announce Richard Proffer as the new community and economic development educator. He brings a wealth of experience in business retention and expansion work, small business development, economic development, and strategic planning.

People filling out paperwork on a desk

Rural communities throughout Illinois and across the nation struggle to maintain population, jobs, and schools. The COVID-19 pandemic created even more challenges; however, a collaborative group of community leaders in Fulton County was already at work addressing the challenges, positioning their communities for growth through the challenges. That advance work helped obtain state and federal funding support, that yielded four grants worth more than $8 million.

Picture of a coal plant

In the fall of 2019, the communities of Canton and Havana were hit with the shocking news that Vistra Corp. planned closing the local coal-fired power plants within three months. Community leaders were left to navigate the detrimental impacts to their tax base and workforce and they turned to each other to share ideas and resources.

Trucks preparing to install broadband in rural setting

Broadband technologies and applications are an integral part of any economic development effort in today’s economy. Having access to broadband and enhancing people’s knowledge and application of this valuable resource is vital to the social and economic well-being of the region. University of Illinois Extension has worked closely with several partners to provide training and support for broadband expansion locally as well as across the state.

scaling up info graphic

Local eateries, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and coffee shops are the social and economic lifeblood of many Illinois communities.