Focus Forward CI – First Ever 5-Year Stategic Plan Approved; Community Economic Development Frameworks Transformed

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A year after VE developed a new 5-year CEDS for four Central Illinois counties, regional leaders approved a new performance metrics-based plan for growth.

At the request of the Illinois River Valley Council of Governments (IRVCOG) and the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC) representing the county, municipal, village and township governments of Central Illinois, ViTAL Economy (VE) conducted a best practice assessment of the four-county region’s effectiveness in developing and implementing a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS). VE also assessed the region’s capacity to collaborate across government boundaries and with private and nonprofit sector interests. Findings and recommendation reports were issued in May 2012 (

As a result of this work, in June 2012, regional leaders asked VE to help them transform their approach to a regional CEDS. The goal was to follow national best practices developed by VE and cited by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) and the EDA “Know Your Region Program.”  VE was also contracted to oversee an extensive reorganization of regional economic, workforce, and community development and planning systems, in collaboration with public, private and nonprofit sectors.

VE faced the challenge of developing a new 5-year CEDS for the four-county region in just four months to meet the EDA’s October 1, 2012 deadline. As of May 2012, the certified Economic Development District had initiated very limited regional engagement of the four county regions and the document had not even been drafted.  VE quickly launched extensive community economic development research, engaged hundreds of regional leaders in a new CEDS process and reorganized the delivery system to meet the EDA deadline.


Since June 2012, the VE Journey has engaged over 400 regional leaders in active dialogue about the goals, strategies and action plans needed to transform the regional CEDS. For the first time in their history, regional leaders have approved a new performance metrics-based foundation for the new CEDS.

The level of stakeholder collaboration across the region has never been greater and regional leaders are excited about the future of Central Illinois. State and federal agencies are now looking at Central Illinois as a model that other regions should adopt. The new 5-year CEDS was filed on time and is being updated in 2013 in accordance with new best practice guidelines.

For more information, Contact VE or 410-321-1484.