drawing of lots of types of transporation and city skyline

Transportation moves us.

Jobs, school, health clinics, grocery stores, recreational facilities, and more would be impossible to get to without adequate service and infrastructure. But history shows that the benefits of transportation have not been distributed equitably, and historically marginalized communities have had to bear disproportionate costs from transportation as well. More recently, planners have taken up the challenge of creating a more equitable transportation system.

downtown Morton IL

Morton Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce identified “the advancement of its economic development efforts” and the “creation of a livable community for all” as key priorities, and subsequently engaged with University of Illinois Extension and UIUC Department of Urban and Regional Planning in an applied research study.  The study included commu

Aging water infrastructure, extreme weather, and pressure from residents for green space and community resilience are bringing about changes to the way cities around the country are thinking about stormwater management. In times past, preferred practices funneled water into pipes underground, moving it away from the built environment as fast as possible. However, these practices can impair water quality and do not always solve flooding problems. Increasingly, communities are considering green infrastructure as part of their stormwater management plan.

Streator is a forward thinking city. During the spring of 2019 the city contracted with Illinois Business Consulting, the University of Illinois EDA University Center and the University of Illinois Extension to provide a study on the economic impact of investing in resources for local business. The economic impact study was able to show not just direct revenue gains, but the total economic impact of creating one new business based on previous data.

Our partnerships with U of I College of Medicine - Peoria are cross-disciplinary and mutually beneficial.

Even though we are both part of the University of Illinois System our partnership is relatively new. Once it started, more and more mutually beneficial opportunities became evident. Extension staff in the areas of horticulture, community and economic development, 4-H youth development, and SNAP-Ed all have ongoing projects in which UICOMP is a partner.

When two more grocery stores closed in 2018 in Southside and East Bluff Peoria neighborhoods, University of Illinois Extension staff joined the team of policymakers, nongovernmental organizations, and activists working to eliminate disparities in equitable access to healthy food. The process to fill the gap in access to healthy food in the City of Peoria is a challenge that is multi-faceted but began with conducting a grocery store survey.

There are tremendous opportunities in small town’s historic downtowns. This past fall University of Illinois Extension partnered with a Bradley University marketing class to implement a market analysis that will help Delavan, IL identify business opportunities in their community.

School of Architecture students worked with City of Peoria’s Innovation Team to begin small changes that will lead to big impacts in one Peoria neighborhood.

Improving the livability of our towns and cities commonly starts at the street, block, or building scale. While larger scale efforts do have their place, incremental, small-scale improvements are increasingly seen as a way to stage more substantial investments.

During this past summer UIUC School of Architecture graduate student Saloni Sheth, worked with Peoria PlayHouse Childrent’s Museum and University of Illinois Extension to consider redesign opportunities for the museum.

STEAM experts and leaders join forces to better serve our local educators and citizens.

University of Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit staff worked to facilitate University of Illinois Urbana Champaign School of Architecture’s engagement with City of Peoria and community leaders during two separate semester-long courses. During the Spring 2017 semester, graduate students Michael Osterloo and Drew Nuding completed a research study overseen by Professor Lynne Dearborn.

Assessing Downtown Canton report represents a collaborative effort between Canton Main Street, Uni­versity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois Extension. The assessment was conducted in the sum­mer of 2014 to provide technical assis­tance for revitalization efforts in Canton, Illinois.

When first-year Master of Urban Planning student Marcia Klopf began her search for a master's capstone project, she was looking for a project which would combine her interests in historic preservation and urban design. Through Kathie Brown, a University of Illinois Extension Educator for Community and Economic Development (serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell Counties), Marcia found the perfect match—The City of Washington.

In July, City of Peoria was selected as a finalist in the Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million national competition that will award outside-the-box ideas to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families in cities across the U.S. The Challenge is hosted by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all children, particularly those growing up in poverty in America. The project titled Lots of Fun! was selected as a finalist out of a pool of more than 1,000 applications nationwide.

During the annual Discover Manufacturing Expo, over 800 students from 29 area schools are introduced to manufacturing career pathways.

This is the second year University of Illinois Extension has engaged with the Greater Peoria EDC's Strategic Manufacturing Group in linking area manufacturers with educators through an event designed to inspire and prepare students for manufacturing careers.

Creating a local Historic Commercial district is the focus of a UIUC Department of Urban and Regional Planning Capstone project. Marcia Klop, Graduate Student in Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UIUC is working with University of Illinois Extension, City of Washington Economic Developer, local businesses and historic preservation specialists from throughout the state in her study.

Strengthening Local Food Systems

Although conversations are held nationally, many solutions are sought locally. Large urban centers garner most of the media attention in this sector, but small and mid-size cities play an important role in the United States' local food systems. Local residents, organizations, businesses, and governments all play a role in the food system—even if their parts are not always obvious!

Local Food Resource Guide

The food we eat has profound impacts on public health, environmental quality, economic development, and land use. Increasingly, activists, analysts, public health practitioners, farmers, consumer advocates, and policy makers agree that finding new solutions includes increasing access to local foods.

Prepared by Nancy Smebak, University of Illinois Extension Research Assistant, April 2015

This project documents and describes the food system in Peoria County and the surrounding region through participatory and analytic mapping and key informant interviews and videos. Case studies and academic research provide suggestions for improving profitability, equity, civic engagement, and health in the local food system.

Taking stock of the community's resources to support entrepreneurship growth and development is a critical element to creating a proactive environment for business development. Local Economic Development Organizations can take proactive approach to assisting existing and prospective business owners through permitting process, funding opportunities, and regional business resources. Creating a guide that covers the basics, from finding a location to outlining the permit process can be an valuable resource for new businesses.

August, 2014 North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois Extension, University of Wisconsin Extension, Iowa State Extension.

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. Mary Edwards, graduate research assistant Manish Singh, and Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit community and economic development educator Kathleen Brown.