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March 30, 2018



Painter Alexis Rockman set out to depict the Great Lakes region and all its complexities, considering the 14,000-year developments, present ecosystems, and threatened futures of these five bodies of water. The Great Lakes Cycle, the five-painting centerpiece of Rockman’s current exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, is the result of his most involved project yet. Commissioned by the museum, which sits about 40 miles east of Lake Michigan, it involved Rockman traveling around the Great Lakes region to conduct extensive research. (The exhibition, too, will travel to five other institutions, all in cities around the Great Lakes.) He learned about its ecology from individuals in the recreational fishing industry, ichthyologists, anthropologists, and representatives from the Department of Fisheries. He then returned to his New York studio to paint the many environmental issues that plague the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem, from toxic algae blooms to invasive sea lamprey. Some of his ideas appear in an adjacent gallery of watercolors, a fantastic grouping that the museum has supplemented with Rockman’s ongoing series of field drawings of flora and fauna.



International Trade – It’s Easy When You Know How

Presented by: Kathie Cravens, International Trade Specialist, Illinois Small Business Development Center

Noon-1PM, Thursday, April 12, 2018

Join us for a free webinar, where local officials and economic development professionals will learn about what they can do to assist small business expansion into the international market, international trade opportunities in Illinois, and business retention.

Kathie Cravens, CGBP, MIEx, a seasoned international trade specialist with years of exporting experience, has traveled and lived abroad, worked closely with numerous international dealers and distributors, and has attended several international trade shows. She has advised small to medium sized companies on their export practices and has been directly involved with U.S. exporting. She provides research support for new markets and products and referral assistance for export related activities, licensing, certification, legal and financial consultation, logistics and customs issues.

Cravens was owner of BritAm International, an export management company, advising small to medium sized companies on the expertise of exporting. Before accepting her new position as international trade specialist for the September 2013 opening of the new International Trade Center (ITC) in Champaign, she was employed at the GSI Group as an international logistics specialist, exporting product from Taylorville and Assumption to every continent of the world. REGISTER HERE



A report in the journal Science reveals that fishing activity now covers at least 55% of the world’s oceans — four times the land area covered by agriculture. In 2016, according to the study, 70,000 vessels of the global fishing fleet traveled 286 million miles (460 million km) – equivalent to traveling to the moon and back 600 times. The study data reveal that five countries – China, Spain, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea – account for more than 85% of high seas fishing. The researchers created an interactive map — which is freely available to the public — that shows a near real-time global view of the fishing patterns of individual vessels and fleets.



USDA launched a website to assist rural leaders with resources, information and best practices to manage the drug overdose crisis. In October 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the rates of drug overdose deaths are rising in rural areas, surpassing rates in urban areas. A November 2017 report from the USDA Economic Research Service revealed rising mortality rates among working age adults living in rural America, stemming in part from prescription drug and heroin misuse. A December 2017 survey by the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau Federation found that as many as 74% of farmers have been directly impacted by the opioid crisis. Opioid misuse has caused lost productivity in jobs, increased health care demands, and put great stress on emergency response, law enforcement, judicial and school system resources. Children are being raised by grandparents or extended family because of addiction. For many rural counties operating on slim budgets and struggling to attract new businesses or maintain existing employers, the consequences of this issue for rural communities are very real.



April 4, 2018 (Rural Utilites Service) - Community Connect Grant

April 4-5, 2018 (Rural Utilities Service) - RD Apply Application

April 12, 2018 (Webinar) - International Trade and Small Business Development in Illinois

April 17-18, 2018 (Rural Utlities Service) - Contract Administration

May 3, 2018 (Webinar) - Open Meetings Act

June 14, 2018 (Webinar) - Age-Friendly Communities and Senior Bullying

June 27, 2018 - Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference