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Community Swap
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Finding a fresh perspective on your community

What Factors are Used to Match Communities?

A community participating in the Community Swap program is paired with another community of similar size and characteristics. The following list of factors, in order of importance, should be considered when matching two communities for the Community Swap program:

Population: Communities should be within 10-20% of one another in total population.

Proximity to major population centers: Are the proposed partner communities rural? Are they considered bedroom communities? Are they part of an MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area)? Are they enough alike to share concerns and opportunities?

Economic emphasis of local community: Is the economy based on tourism? Industry? An educational institution? Is there interest in developing the central business district?

Proximity to major transportation arteries: Do the proposed partner communities have direct access to an Interstate? Are they located on a river?

Proximity to each other: When communities are more than a 90-minute drive apart, the visiting team has little time during the business day to assess the partnered community. Distance also adds to the cost of the visit (mileage increases, for example). On the other hand, communities should be far enough apart that visiting team members are not likely to be familiar with the partner community. Familiarity can lead to biases in the evaluation.

Other factors which may make two communities a good match:

Common economic issues, threats or concerns such as uncontrolled growth, dependence on a single industry or business attraction.

Common population characteristics such as minority populations, a large senior population or a significant proportion of the local population in poverty.

The best matches are communities which are similar but not identical. If both communities have had the same successes, such as a completed downtown development project, the opportunities to learn from each other are not as great.

Onto "Steps for Matching Communities: -->

A program by University of Illinois Extension