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IIRA Unit for Community Planning Shares Successes at IL Municipal League Conference

November 2, 2012

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MACOMB, IL – A program manager from the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University recently shared the stage with MAPPING the Future of Your Community representatives from LaSalle, Shelbyville and Stewardson at the Illinois Municipal League's (IML) 99th annual conference held in Chicago last month.

The acronym "MAPPING" stands for Management and Planning Program Involving Nonmetropolitan Groups, and Giselle Hamm, the program manager for the IIRA unit MAPPING the Future of Your Community, participated at the IML, which was held Oct. 18-20.

Founded in 1914, the IML provides Illinois municipalities with a formal voice in legislative issues and provides knowledge and experience to assist municipal officials to effectively administer their duties.

According to Hamm, the annual conference helps educate members and attendees through the events and sessions offered. She invited the LaSalle, Shelbyville and Stewardson community representatives to participate as part of a panel discussion session to share MAPPING community successes experienced following their involvement in the visioning and planning process.

"Tad Mayhall discussed the 'Shelbyville Works!' group, which was formed as a result of the MAPPING the Future program in 2011," Hamm explained. "Brian Flach and Jim Carroll represented the Community Organization Working for Stewardson (COWS) and Don J. Aleksy, director of economic development, represented LaSalle. These community leaders shared their community and economic development approaches, along with successes that have resulted from the strategic visioning and planning program."

Hamm noted the program MAPPING the Future of Your Community is the longest-running community visioning and planning program in Illinois and has worked with more than 130 municipalities across the state.

"The results we have experienced have helped us to build a stronger community based on the goals we have developed," said Mayhall, a member of the Shelby County Economic Development Corporation. "We have created a formal community marketing strategy, which includes development of a website and multiple official Shelbyville social media sites. Future plans include school facility modernization, infrastructure improvements and strengthening community involvement. The MAPPING process helped us to realize that even a small community can achieve impressive results."

Flach, president of COWS, and Carroll, a Stewardson village board member, have been actively involved in community efforts since the MAPPING the Future program began in 2010.

"We have adopted a number of philosophies aimed at fostering volunteerism in our community, which has greatly enhanced our ability to meet our goals. Stewardson's volunteers strive to raise the person behind them and hope that someone better will take their places," Carroll said.

"Between the volunteers who work to meet the community's goals, and the resources we have identified through the MAPPING program, we have learned that partnering with others is the best path to future growth and development. We were influenced by the successes that neighboring Strasburg had begun to experience following their MAPPING program, and now combine our efforts to create larger events. It has been a wonderful experience for our community," Flach added.

Aleksy, who is also owner and CFO of True Vision Enterprise and a management instructor for Illinois Valley Community College, noted that new business development in LaSalle is on the rise.

"We have a surplus in our redevelopment incentive program budget for the first time. During the MAPPING process we identified action teams to focus on downtown beautification, so we can improve our prospects to attract high-tech businesses and promote our reputation as an entrepreneurial-friendly community," Alesky explained. "We have also received $1 million from the city council to repave seven blocks in the downtown area and used grant dollars to install new street lights. These improvements have helped make our French Market project more appealing and, consequently, it has been very successful, as well."

The MAPPING the Future of Your Community Program focuses on engaging community leaders and members through strategic visioning and planning as an important approach for revitalizing communities and ensuring a prosperous future. Learn more about the MAPPING program at

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