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Population projections show that rural Illinois will face serious issues in the next decade and beyond, with population declines, shrinking young population cohorts, and increasing proportions of elderly that may retire and/or move out of Illinois, closing many small businesses that have provided essential services for many years. This may result in loss of tax revenues needed to support infrastructure, education, and other services important to maintaining local quality of life in some areas. Anticipating these changes and designing programs to take advantage of resources and opportunities now will help avert more serious issues in the future. For nearly three decades, as the state’s federally designated rural development council, Rural Partners has been a voice for rural Illinois, helping public officials design policies to improve the quality of life and enable rural areas to prosper. Working with the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council (GRAC) and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA), Rural Partners helps state agencies learn about and evaluate ways to advance rural counties and promote prosperity. This policy brief suggests approaches to expand opportunities for successful strategies.

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Illinois, rural communities, population decrease, small business, public policy




Center for Governmental Studies


Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies

A Briefing: Promise & Programs in Rural Illinois

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