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January 18, 2019



The 30th Annual Rural Community Economic Development Conference begins on Tuesday evening (March 5) with a Welcome Reception at 7:00 p.m. On Wednesday, the morning plenary session features speakers who will focus on bringing the recovery to rural Illinois. Speakers will explore the benefits of creating sustainable places designed to improve the quality of life for rural residents. Sessions this year will include developing high-quality healthcare, job growth, alternative energies, and broadband opportunities, while also identifying existing assets in rural regions. Strategies to adjust to changing demographics and to develop rehabbed housing will also be discussed. Nationally recognized author Michael Shuman will speak during the plenary session and will also give a presentation following lunch. His latest book, Local Dollars, Local Sense, is available for sale at the conference with opportunities to request his signature. We will mark our 30 year anniversary on Tuesday evening from 7 to 9 pm in the Lincoln Room. Please plan to help celebrate our accomplishments in a relaxed atmosphere, network and share your ideas with like-minded individuals. Those arriving prior to the conference will also have this opportunity to meet the speakers in an informal setting. Register for the conference!



Examining Emerging Contaminants in the Environment

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant are hosting the 2019 Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference (ECEC19) on May 21-22, 2019, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign, IL. This year the conference will expand beyond the aquatic environment to also include air and soil studies along with effects on human and animal health.  It will feature presentations and posters on the latest in emerging contaminant research, policies, and outreach. Abstracts for poster presentations can be submitted until February 4.  Conference registration will open in mid-February.



Rural counties and small metropolitan areas crowd the top of the list of U.S. counties that rely most on help from the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program, the USDA program formerly known as Food Stamps. Of the top 100 counties ranked by the share of population that participates in SNAP, 85 are rural, according to 2015 Census data. And the few metropolitan counties that did make the top-100 list are predominately in smaller metro areas. The list encompasses regions with well documented and chronic poverty. The top three counties are in Indian Country — South Dakota and Alaska. The next county on the list, with 48% of its population participating, is in West Virginia’s coalfields. Next is a Mississippi county in the Delta. And rounding out the top six is a county on the Cumberland Plateau of Eastern Kentucky. Also high on the list are counties in the Black Belt South – the region named for its dark, rich soil that stretches from southern Virginia to Louisiana. The pattern is not a surprise, since those regions have high rates of poverty and SNAP eligibility is based on income. But the lack of metropolitan areas in the top-100 list is striking. Portions of Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York City are on the list.



University of Illinois Extension’s Community and Economic Development team will host the Federal Legislative Update on Thursday, January 24, 2019, at 12PM CST with Jack Peterson from National Association of Counties (NACo). This webinar will cover recent and potential changes in legislation that will have a direct impact on Illinois local governments. With a Q&A session following the presentation, participants will have an opportunity to discuss impact and better understand mandated and expected actions. Register here.



January 24 (Webinar) - Federal Legislative Update

February 7 (Webinar) - Local Efficiency Assessment Program (LEAP)

February 15 - Governor's Volunteer Service Awards Nomination Deadline

March 6-7 (Springfield) - 30th Annual Economic Development Conference

March 21-22 - 2019 Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference