2018 Highlights

Building a Statewide Network
Illinois Rural Partners provides opportunities to network at conferences; shares information via the website; publishes a weekly newsletter; shares success stories; identifies funding opportunities and ideas; and responds to initiatives across the state. Rural Partners connects communities, not-for-profits, businesses, state and federal agencies, and others to create opportunities and resolve impediments to progress. In November, Rural Partners board member Matt Johnson, Vice President of Government Policy for Shawnee Communications, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank’s Agricultural and Technology Committee seminar in Chicago, where he described Shawnee’s broadband network built in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Member Events
In July, Rural Partners board members and guests toured “Big Things in a Small Town” in Casey, Illinois. Community members described their economic development and tourism efforts, highlighting the uniqueness of their small town. The group enjoyed lunch at Richards Farm Restaurant and toured Eastern Illinois University’s Center for Clean Energy Research.

At the November Rural Partners meeting, Dr. John Jackson, SIUC Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, discussed the 2018 mid-term elections and their impact and stake for Rural America. Dr. Jackson is a frequent contributor to local, state, and national media coverage of government and politics.

Sponsored Conferences
Rural Partners co-sponsors and invites exhibitors to conferences focused on business development, broadband, leadership and other topics to help rural leaders learn about and implement creative approaches to rural community development. Rural Partners co-sponsors the annual Rural Community Economic Development Conference in March.

Shares Information through the Newsletter and Website
The Rural Partners weekly newsletter includes articles about funding, conferences, success stories and more. Members and others are encouraged to contribute articles and information which can help promote your company, your community, your cause or your ideas. The Rural Partners website is informative, responsive and interactive to better serve our members and others. Visit, or email us for the latest!

Keeps You in Touch with State Government Leadership
As a member of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, University of Illinois Extension Partners, and other task forces, Rural Partners follows state rural development initiatives and funding opportunities to share issues and address problems facing rural communities and businesses. Rural Partners provides a voice for rural communities and organizations through these and other statewide and regional organizations.

ProvidingLeadership and Input to the National Organization, Partners for Rural America (PRA)
Illinois Rural Partners is active in PRA, the national coalition of state councils, to have a national voice in rural policy, programming and legislation and to share and learn best practices from across the country. Jerry Townsend, Illinois Rural Partners, serves on the PRA Board.

Seeks Feedback from Members
Rural Partners seeks input from members and others to determine needs and priorities. High priority goals are continuing services within tight budgets, advocating for broadband, and supporting businesses and entrepreneurs.


What’s in store for 2019?

  • Continue to advocate for the rural agenda with the new statewide leadership in Illinois and at the national level.

  • Support the annual Rural Community Economic Development Conference on March 6 and 7 in Springfield.

  • Rural Partners will host the Partners for Rural America (PRA) annual national conference in August or September.Rural Partners will celebrate its 30th Anniversary with opportunities to participate offered alongside other events throughout the year.