2023 Highlights

Building a Statewide Network
Illinois Rural Partners connects communities, not-for-profits, businesses, state and federal agencies, and others to create opportunities and resolve impediments to progress. Rural Partners provides networking opportunities, shares information via the website, publishes a weekly newsletter, shares success stories, identifies funding opportunities and ideas, and responds to requests for assistance and initiatives from across the state.

Member Events
Rural Partners sponsored the annual Rural Community Economic Development Conference hosted by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University (WIU) and in partnership with the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council (GRAC). Many of our directors and members attended the conference and appreciated the content and contacts from across the country. Our annual board and membership meetings were held in person and we are grateful for the opportunity to network with members.

Rural Partners continued the webinar series that began in October 2020. This series is offered in partnership with University of Illinois Extension’s Local Government Education (LGE) program, and features state and national leaders providing information and insight into current and innovative programs, case studies, issues, and examples. Webinars covered an analysis of election results; state, federal and local government programs, including broadband; changes in population and composition of rural communities; rural economic development initiatives; and examples of successful rural programs and resources.

Sharing Information through the Newsletter and Website
The Rural Partners weekly newsletter includes articles about funding opportunities, resources, programs, 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. Visit, or email for the latest!

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

Providing Leadership and Input to the National Organization, Partners for Rural America (PRA)
Rural Partners continues to participate and provide leadership for PRA, the national coalition of state councils. PRA gives Illinois a voice in national rural policy, programming and legislation, and opportunities to learn and share best practices from across the country. Rural Partners participates in Network State Briefings with the White House.

Seeking Feedback from Members
Rural Partners seeks input regularly from members and others to help determine and prioritize state, regional and local initiatives. High priority goals are continuing to provide needed services within tight budgets, advocating for broadband, and supporting businesses and entrepreneurs.

What’s in store for 2024? Rural Partners will . . .

  • Continue to advocate for rural Illinois with statewide leaders in Illinois and at the national level, including participation in the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and the White House Network State Briefings.
  • Support the Rural Community Economic Development Conference February 28 & 29, 2024 in Springfield.
  • Continue to sponsor our webinar series in partnership with University of Illinois Extension.
  • Host membership events, both in person and virtually.
  • Sponsor Ag Day at the 2024 Illinois State Fair. See you there!
  • Update our strategic plan for 2024-2025.