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Russell Medley
Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development
University of Illinois Extension
321 W 2nd Avenue
Milan, IL 61264
Phone: 309-756-9978
FAX: 309-756-9987

Community and Economic Development

Community and Economic Development

University of Illinois Extension provides practical, research-based information and programs to help individuals, families, organizations, businesses, farms, and rural and urban communities throughout Illinois.

Community and Economic Development

University of Illinois Extension's Community and Economic Development professional staff gives counties and communities access to research and technical assistance from the University.  Extension provides staff support for counties and communities without sufficient resources to complete the work. It increases the local knowledge of economic development, trends, best practices, and state and federal programs that offer technical and grant assistance. In this way, communities can implement economic development plans that meet local business needs, attract and expand new businesses, increase local sales tax revenues, and focuses on workforce improvement.

Through Illinois Extension’s Community Participatory Planning program, local communities and municipal governments convene stakeholders to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their region, identify gaps in data and develop a preferred strategic vision for their communities going forward. This new knowledge results in a development of high quality economic development plans, a delivery infrastructure, and an ongoing monitoring framework. It also allows for a grassroots focus on bottom up economic development planning as opposed to top down. 

Extension's community and economic development programs, municipalities, counties, school districts, library boards, public and private non-profit organizations increase their capacity of local decision making through facilitation, skills training, managing projects, survey design, strategic planning, and understanding data.  It also allows for leadership capacity building to improve local economic development outcomes.

Community and Economic Development programs in Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark Counties are led by Russell Medley (Extension Educator, Community and Economic

Development)Russell Medley works to build community and organizational resiliency in Unit 7 by ensuring that counties, communities, and non-profit organizations have access to community and economic development resources, research and technical assistance. He delivers programs on strategic visioning and planning, leadership, local decision-making, disaster preparedness planning, and survey design services. He works directly with stakeholders to expand local knowledge of economic development, trends and best practices and to implement actions that meet local business needs, expand workforce attraction and retention efforts, and increase local sales tax revenues.

Featured Websites

Local Resources and Information

  • Municipal Approaches to Solar Energy Webinar
    University of Illinois Extension Community and Economic Development will air two live webinars on Municipal Approaches to Solar Energy, both on Thursdays at Noon on September 13th and 27th. In the first webinar on cost control, Scott Tess, Environmental Sustainability Manager for the City of Urbana, will share strategies and experiences to make your municipality an easy, fast, and cheap place for solar energy installations for both public and private sector properties. Scott will discuss the SolSmart best practices and recognition program, municipal solar procurement, public bulk purchase programming, and leasing underutilized property for solar. In the second webinar on September 27th, Rick Swan, Fond du Lac Township Supervisor and Executive Director of the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce, will cover his experiences with solar farm implementation and efforts in leading a community-supported solar panel installation, following 2016 state legislation approving small to mid-sized solar operations.

Additional Topics

Nutrition and Wellness Horticulture 4-H Youth Development Commercial Agriculture Environment and Energy Stewardship Local Food Systems and Small Farms Family Life En Español