On a Friday filled with forecasts of freezing rain and snow advisories, more than 170 attendees became an overflow crowd at John A. Logan Community College in Carterville, Illinois. The informational meeting was a regional presentation on how American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding can help grow local economies and build communities in Southern Illinois. Rural Development collaborated with five other organizations as part of its Rural Development Road Show, Round Two. Participants drove as far as 100 miles for a single purpose: to learn how we can help improve their rural communities.
The audience was a diverse as I’ve ever seen…engineers, lenders, city officials, representatives of the construction trades, planning commissions and numerous not-for-profits participated. We visited with people from libraries, water companies, healthcare facilities and cooperatives. Staff from US Senator Durbin’s office, Congressman’s Costello office and State Representative John Bradley, himself, (still showing the effects of a bout with pneumonia) joined us, too!
With such an overwhelming turnout, we ran out of handouts. But we focused on the need to incorporate these “C’s”: Communicate, Connect, Collaborate, Common Sense and accept Change as we work toward rebuilding and improving our rural communities. Attendees were looking for ways to fund their projects, and we are fortunate to have unprecedented resources to help them achieve their goals, thanks to the ARRA funding!
We have another Recovery Act meeting tomorrow, Thursday, in Oregon, Ill. and wrap things up on February 23rd in Springfield, Ill. For more information on date, time and location, go to: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/il/.
Submitted by Illinois State Director Colleen Callahan