University News

Village of Altamont Poised to Embrace Promising Future Thanks to IIRA's MAPPING Program

November 20, 2012

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MACOMB, IL -- The Village of Altamont (IL) is poised to embrace a promising future, thanks to the commitment and dedication of its MAPPING Action Teams, according to staff at the MAPPING the Future of Your Community program, an initiative of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University.

The IIRA's MAPPING program (the acronym "MAPPING" stands for "Management and Planning Programs Involving Non-Metropolitan Groups") helps communities create a vision for the future and a plan for achieving it. It is a strategic visioning and planning process providing local residents of rural communities an opportunity to create a long-range vision for the economic development of their community and a plan of action for achieving it.

According to MAPPING the Future of Your Community Program Manager Gisele Hamm, Altamont's long-term plan includes five goals the community will work to achieve in the next 20 to 30 years, as well as the strategies the community members will utilize to reach their goals.

"To help with envisioning the results, goals are written as though they have already been accomplished. Each goal resulted in the development of multiple strategies to consider when creating projects, along with prioritization of those strategies to identify a starting point," Hamm explained. "Participating community members have also formed action teams for each goal—to develop their first project plans and begin work toward achieving those goals. To complete the MAPPING process, participants plan to hold a town meeting in January 2013 to unveil the action plan to the entire community and to encourage other residents to get involved."

The first of Altamont's five goals is aimed at attracting I-70 travelers with unique lodging options, restaurants and shops. The short-term strategies include cleanup efforts and researching to develop signage along the interstate. There are also plans to develop the recreation and park system in the village to appeal to all age groups, as well as to meet the community's needs, Hamm noted.

The third goal includes offering a variety of incentives designed to attract businesses and encourage start-ups. Plans are in the works to create a marketing strategy promoting businesses and development in Altamont. The fourth goal is comprised of plans for the utilization of the village's facilities to host events and to promote the area as a venue for concerts, fairs, expositions and festivals.

"Lastly, developing a wide variety of educational and character-building programs will make Altamont a great place to live, welcoming new families and businesses with available information and activities in the community," she added.

Community champion James Lurkins invited the MAPPING Program to Altamont after noticing a change in nearby Dieterich (IL).

"I had noticed a cleaner, well-rounded town and learned that both Dieterich and the Stewardson-Strasburg area have experienced great successes after participating in the program. This will, hopefully, enable the community members to combine efforts and work together to realize our goals. MAPPING is an important program that will help to ensure the future of our community in the long term," Lurkins noted.

"The MAPPING program enhances local decision-making processes by providing accurate information, an effective forum for public dialogue and problem solving, as well as knowledge of innovative practices consistent with a community's vision for growth and change," Hamm explained. "MAPPING is a tool local leaders and citizens can use to create a shared vision of the community's future and generate momentum to put the plan into action."

MAPPING programs are funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Western Illinois University.

For more information about the IIRA's MAPPING the Future program or the Altamont MAPPING initiative, contact Hamm toll free at (800) 526-9943 or via email at

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