The Laboratory for Community and Economic Development was created to support
community and economic development efforts of local citizens, their
governments and representatives. The Laboratory provides information and
educational programs, and conducts research on economic and social issues
that are relevant to communities and community leaders. The Laboratory
partners with Extension Educators and Unit Leaders of the Cooperative
Extension Service across the state.
What Programs are Available?
The Laboratory for Community and Economic Development, with Extension
Educators and Unit Leaders, provides programs in communities
communities across Illinois work with the Laboratory for Community and Economic
Development. Faculty and staff provide technical assistance to rural counties
in comprehensive community-building and economic development programs.
Communities call upon the Lab to conduct needs assessment studies, economic
profiles, and leadership development programs. With the cooperation of Unit
Leaders and the expertise of Extension Educators, the Laboratory can deliver
programs throughout the state. The RURAL PARTNERS/Kellogg Program, "Helping
Rural Communities Prepare for Economic Development," was created and
implemented through the Laboratory for Community and Economic Development.
Research conducted by the Laboratory includes:
Poverty in Illinois: This study identifies significant
differences between urban and rural poverty, and provides information to
policymakers, service providers, advocates and academics as they serve
persons and families living in poverty.
Community Issues: Through its extensive work in community
needs assessment, the Laboratory has gathered information about issues
of importance and concern in communities. Organizing this information
and sharing it with community leaders will help them initiate development
projects, and develop appropriate policy.
Community Business Success: This project identifies issues
pertinent to the growth and development of businesses, and identifies
characteristics of businesses which grow and prosper, versus those which
are not well-positioned for change.
Survey of Mayors: This research effort is designed to
identify leadership strengths among small-town mayors. The study will
be used to create leadership development programs for small communities
and rural areas in Illinois.
Program areas include:
Demographic analysis: The Laboratory analyzes demographic
data which bear on current and future community conditions. The
Laboratory can access census and other databases. This information is
useful to community leaders and local and state policymakers as they
use demographic data to profile their communities.
Leadership and Community Development: Local leaders must
develop strategies for development that are appropriate and effective
in their communities. The Laboratory offers programs which help local
leaders enhance their ability to evaluate and implement strategies for
effective community development.
Strategic Planning: In an economy which pits rural and urban
markets against competitors around the globe, many communities
struggle with few resources and slim margins. Strategic planning which
includes an assessment of needs and resources; an assessment of
strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and a realistic set
of goals is critical. The Laboratory offers community strategic planning
which is inclusive and forward-thinking.