New guide will help residents in rural communities access government services
CARBONDALE, ILÂ â€“ As chair of the Governorâ€™s Rural Affairs Council (GRAC), Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today announced the availability of an updated Rural Development Resource Guide. The guide will help residents of Illinoisâ€™ rural communities better access government programs and services.
â€œResidents of rural communities too often donâ€™t know about state programs that meet their needs,â€ said Simon. â€œI hope all Illinois residents will take advantage of this comprehensive, user-friendly, online guide.â€
Throughout fiscal year 2013, the GRAC and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) worked to compile a list of state programs and services relevant to rural areas. This resulting online resource is a searchable database which lists programs by program name, organization, category or keyword. Rural residents, community leaders and elected officials can access information about available government programs and how they can be accessed. Programs included range from agricultural to business development and tourism.
â€œThe state of Illinois has many programs and services that can help rural communities improve the quality of life for their residents. However, accessing those programs can be difficult, especially for the leadership of small towns who may be working as volunteers or on a part time basis,â€ said IIRA Director Christopher Merrett. â€œThe Rural Development Resource Guide is intended to be a â€˜one-stopâ€™ resource for rural communities looking for solutions to the issues they face.â€
The guide was initially created in 2007 by the GRAC and maintained by the IIRA; however, over the years it had become outdated. When work on the guide began during the past year, the guide contained 297 program listings that were only 25 percent up-to-date. By May of this year, the guide contained 352 programs and was 81 percent up-to-date. Outdated programs will be updated or removed as necessary. During fiscal year 2014, work will continue to update the remaining programs. Agency personnel can also update or add programs at any time.
The Governorâ€™s Rural Affairs Council, led by Simon, approved the public launch of the resource guide Wednesday during a quarterly meeting. To access the guide, visit www.iira.org/data/resourceguide or find a link at the Lt. Governorâ€™s website, www.ltgov.illinois.gov.