University of Illinois Extension Educators in Community and Economic Development work in the following areas: Community Leadership and Organizational Development, Participatory Community Planning, and Community Economic Development. Educators work across the state.
Who uses Extension?
Extension services and programs in community and economic development are used by people across the state: local governments; regional planning and development agencies; school administrators and teachers; neighborhood organizations; state agencies and departments; chambers of commerce; business owners and managers; local economic development organizations; not-for-profit agencies; professional associations; and youth and community groups. University of Illinois Extension provides practical, research-based information and programs to help individuals, families, farms, organizations, businesses, and communities in Illinois. Its mission, in short, is to help the people of Illinois put knowledge to work.
Community Leadership and Organizational Development
Communities face a host of issues that demand leadership in the midst of increasing complexity. Community organizations and cities, school districts, library boards, and counties struggle to find qualified residents to serve as council, board and commission members, and it is critical that leaders understand external forces that affect the community. Research indicates that building leadership capacity among residents and elected officials is critical to community viability and sustainability. The quality of information available to community decision makers and public and private non-profit organizations has a significant effect on the vitality of communities. Increasing the capacity of local decision-makers through Extension programming will enhance community vitality and improve the quality of life in rural and urban areas. Addressing issues that are critical to organizational development occurs through various Extension programs, including facilitation, skills training, managing projects, and understanding data.
Statewide program examples: Local Government Education; Leadership Education (including leadership academies and Illinois Leadership Conference); eLearning Modules
Participatory Community Planning
Communities need assistance to identify strategies to address the rapidly changing social and economic landscape. Participatory planning empowers community members to take charge of their futures by analyzing and addressing quality of life and infrastructure issues. Research indicates that these community planning efforts are better when all sectors of the community are included and decision making is inclusive and broad-based.
Statewide program examples: Community Matters (design studios); Disaster Education; Why Broadband? (State of Illinois eTeams)
Community Economic Development
Illinois communities are struggling to create a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing global economy. They must identify and implement new strategies to assure continued survival and prominence in the U.S. economy. These strategies must be consistent with their vision for their future. Support for existing businesses, including agriculture, is important in linking community initiatives to economic development. Building a cadre of local officials who understand their role in economic development has also been emphasized as part of our programming.
Statewide program examples: Data for Decision Makers; Building Entrepreneurial Communities; On The Front Line
For more information go to http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/ced.html