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About the Individual Tools

The Community Development Toolbox offers an online environment where rural people pursuing community development goals are empowered to make better decisions as they solve problems facing their community now! It was developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Laboratory for Community and Economic Development. For more Information contact lced@uiuc.edu.

Community Benchmarking Tools

Community Development Capacity Index
Growth and development cannot always be measured by traditional economic indicators. This online survey can be used by communities to measure change in their organizational capacity for community and economic development projects. Use this instrument to create a baseline measure of your community's capacity and to measure how for your community or region has advanced toward meeting local goals over time.

Telecommunications Infrastructure Readiness Index
The Telecommunications Infrastructure Readiness Index is an inventory and evaluation diagnostic of the telecommunications Infrastructure in your community. There are three components: Part A, the telecommunications Quotient helps you analyze individual affinity for using telecommunications technology; Part B, the Infrastructure Index, helps the community document local Internet access and evaluate the community presence on the World Wide Web (after completing this survey a benchmark score is calculated for future analysis); Part C, includes an inventory of telecommunications providers in your community.

eGovernment Readiness Index
eGovernment practice can enhance the quality and extent of services at every level of government. eGovernment will change the nature of communication between government and its constituents making it more responsive, convenient, and cost effective as it reaches the people it serves in a more efficient and comprehensive way. To understand the dynamic nature of eGovernment infrastructure investment, the LABORATORY FOR COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT has created the eGovernment Readiness Index - a diagnostic and evaluation tool designed to assess government's online presence. The index includes an assessment of the types of services offered online; the community's use of those services; the process of including stakeholders in the design and implementation of eGovernment; and an assessment of how well different government units collaborate to provide services online. Additionally, the eGovernment Readiness Index also places a special focus on how well the local community implements the planning infrastructure to build the local vision for eGovernment.

The score generated by the index is an indicator of a community's level of eGovernment infrastructure at any point in time. The community can return to the site to update the information and monitor change in the evolution of eGovernment services. The score can be used to measure progress toward the adoption of egovernment practice in the community (as a benchmark of the evolution of eGovernment practice) and can provide policy makers with greater insight on how to best allocate future eGovernment investment.

Community Planning

Strategic Planning
Online strategic planning provides community organizations with learning resources related to strategic planning. Local leaders will learn how to organize a committee of diverse stakeholders; brainstorm; create a mission statement for their organization; review the results of previous needs assessments; organize a report of their community's strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats; and complete worksheets to manage and sort their goals, objectives and strategies. The output of this interactive process is a draft strategic plan that incorporates all of the input the community organization entered during the interactive process.

Scheduling Your Project Activities
Use this tool to create a timeline for your community project. The Gantt chart developed by Chares Gantt in 1917, is a graphical project management tool effective in documenting timelines and responsibilities for completing an activity. The horizontal bar in a Gantt chart represents the time an activity begins and ends - the length of the bar reflects the duration of the activity. This bar is color coded to represent who will be responsible to complete each activity.

Thumbs Up - Evaluating Community Websites
Thumbs Up is an evaluation tool designed to help community members find what works and doesn't work in the design and planning stages of their websites. By choosing random community websites the user of this tool gets to view other community's attempts at putting their presence on the Internet. Following the look at the site an evaluation form is presented in a modified "Siskel and Ebert" thumbs up or down format. This fun and straightforward scoring puts some quantitative value on impressions of the website.


Tourism Development Capacity Index
Tourism development cannot always be measured by traditional indicators. The TOURISM DEVELOPMENT CAPACITY INDEX (TDCI) is an assessment tool that provides a framework for communities to benchmark or evaluate the impact of tourism development initiatives. It can be used to assess progress toward meeting community goals by measuring change in both organizational and financial resources.

Assessing and Developing Tourism Resources
This self contained module helps communities develop a strategic plan for tourism development. This interactive online tool outlines a step-by- step process for organizing a planning committee, conducting an inventory and an evaluation of tourism assets, identifying community goals, and developing strategies for tourism development.

Retention and Expansion Program for Travel and Tourism Businesses
Retaining and expanding existing tourism businesses is vital to a successful tourism program. The tourism business retention and expansion survey includes questions about local business conditions, training, future business goals, marketing and the tourism industry in general. Results of the survey are useful in planning education and incentive programs to help tourism business prosper.

Community Surveys

Conducting A Survey In Your Community
Community surveys allow people to gather information about local attitudes and opinions regarding precisely defined issues, problems or opportunities. This interactive tool can be helpful as citizens set priorities for a community survey, determine sample size, evaluate surveying techniques, and identify questions.


U of I ExtensionLaboratory for Community & Economic Development
University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign