A Publication of WTVP

When you think about regional growth and economic prosperity, most people think about the larger cities within our region. Yet rural communities represent 46 percent of the area’s population and play an important role in our region’s vibrancy. Rural communities often face different challenges than larger cities and need access to different resources to address these challenges. The Central Illinois Rural Coalition on Development (CI-RCD) is an organization of leaders from rural communities within central Illinois that provides opportunities to build meaningful, trusted relationships and introduce local communities to valuable rural resources. The mission of CI-RCD is to provide a mechanism enabling communication and interpersonal networking among rural communities in central Illinois. It strives to strengthen and enhance economic opportunities, the quality of life and governmental influence for the region as well as individual communities.

The Central Illinois Rural Coalition on Development was founded in 2000 by a group of rural community leaders looking to share resources and ideas on issues facing rural communities. The organization has expanded over the past eight years and now includes members from Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Mason, Marshall, Stark, Fulton, McDonough, Knox and Sangamon counties. Monthly meetings are held throughout the region, giving member communities the opportunity to showcase their development. In the past year, the CI-RCD has covered a variety of topics, including downtown revitalization, the Illinois River, community development, volunteerism, parks and recreation, renewable energy, and many more. Other speakers have included resource providers such as the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs. The presentations at the monthly meetings are geared toward educating and inspiring members to take these ideas back to their communities and spur development.

The CI-RCD provides members a variety of benefits, including networking, resource sharing, collective influence and promotion of regionalism. Networking and resource sharing are among the most beneficial aspects. Nancy Proehl of Manito says, “Being a member of the Rural Coalition has been very helpful for networking with representatives of other area communities. The connections, our members and the programs each month are geared toward communities of all sizes. These have provided me with valuable information to continue my work toward improving the economic climate in Manito.” Members have the opportunity to share new ideas and development programs and ask one another for advice on issues that many rural Actioncommunities have faced through the years.

Collective influence is another benefit. Speaking with a united voice, the CI-RCD is intended to be greater than the sum of its parts. Our advocacy initiatives will carry shared messages farther and faster through the political and civic channels of opportunity. “CI-RCD offers rural communities active representative participation toward enabling rural community members and professionals to meaningfully influence decisions that affect their everyday lives,” says Lisa Burnett of Chillicothe. Local, state and federal elected officials send representatives to the CI-RCD meetings to listen to concerns and use that information to help with policy decisions.

The CI-RCD also works to promote regionalism. It aims to strengthen our regional attractiveness to developers, financiers, entrepreneurs, expanding businesses, consumers, tourists, etc. The Central Illinois Rural Coalition on Development brings leaders together to promote economic growth and prosperity in the rural areas of our region. These leaders work hard every day to promote the economy of their own communities and share their experiences and resources in efforts to build a stronger region. The CI-RCD provides opportunities to enable our rural communities to continue to thrive in today’s economy and face challenges together as a collective force.

The direction and programming of the CI-RCD is led by an executive committee made up of mayors and community leaders from throughout the region and regional stakeholders including the University of Illinois Extension, the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois (EDC) and the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. The CI-RCD is operated with administrative support from the EDC. To learn more, visit or contact Jessica Moroz at 309-495-5956 or [email protected]. iBi