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Register for IIRA's Rural Community Economic Development Conference March 5-6 in Peoria

February 19, 2014

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MACOMB, IL — For many, the spring season represents a time of rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation. Each year the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University recognizes this time as an opportunity to introduce an abundance of fresh community development ideas during its annual Rural Community Economic Development Conference. This year marks the 25th conference, and the Wednesday-Thursday, March 5-6 event will demonstrate its own rejuvenation—with a new venue at Marriott's Pere Marquette in Peoria (IL).

IIRA Director Christopher Merrett said marking the 25th annual conference event also provides a natural transition point to welcome attendees with a different learning environment and to begin a new year in community building.

"We strive to offer conference participants a number of tangible ideas geared toward economic growth, which have demonstrated success in other communities throughout the country. We realize the importance of identifying the most current trends in community development and invite presenters who will share their previously tested and proven results," he noted. "We also continue to hold down registration fees to provide our attendees with very useful tools at an affordable cost. We work to offer a great value that fits into the budgets of non-profits and small communities, because providing a path toward future measureable outcomes improves the economy not only for an individual community, but also benefits the surrounding rural area."

Merrett said the 2014 schedule includes national experts and practitioners who will discuss reinvigorating local economies, increasing access to capital for entrepreneurs, revitalizing manufacturing and creating new business models.

"Attendees learn strategies for implementation of successful initiatives with local foods, entrepreneurship, downtown development, tourism and leadership," he added.

The registration fee includes a Tuesday evening (March 4) welcome reception, lunch and the 25th anniversary celebration Wednesday, a continental breakfast Thursday and networking breaks on both days.

The registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 28, and online registration is available at Registration is also available via mail-in form (visit for more information) and at the door.

For more information, contact Karen Poncin at the IIRA toll free at (800) 526-9943 or via email at

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