The economic development training program, launched in 2010 by
USDA Rural Development and the nation's four Regional Rural
Development Centers and their land-grant university partners,
enables community leaders and local elected officials to receive
training and technical assistance toward the development of a
rural regional economic development initiative.
"Stronger Economies Together (SET) is at the core of our USDA
Rural Development mission… ‘Committed to the future of Rural
communities,'" said Colleen Callahan, Rural Development state
director. "There is strength in numbers, as the saying goes, and
SET encourages collaboration and cooperation, that in turn
builds regional economic strength."
The Stronger Economies Together region that was awarded the
opportunity to participate in the training program is comprised
of the southern Illinois counties of Alexander, Gallatin,
Hamilton, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union
The program is designed to strengthen the capacity of rural
communities and counties to work together in developing and
implementing an economic development blueprint that
strategically builds on the current and emerging economic
strengths of the region.
The Stronger Economies Together program, now in place in over
50 regions in 28 states, uses a regional approach to economic
development, focused on working with neighboring counties to
capitalize on available assets and work together to decrease
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Over the course of the 12-month training program, the regional team
will develop a vision and goals; examine regional demographics,
opportunities, assets and barriers; and create a regional economic
development plan. Training and technical assistance will be provided
by the Illinois state office of USDA Rural Development staff and a
core team from the University of Illinois Extension, as well as
statewide and area resource providers and experts.
With questions about the program, contact Susan Petrea, area
director for USDA Rural Development, at
or 217-352-3536, ext. 106, or Susan Odum, educator with University
of Illinois Extension, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-252-8391.
[Text from file received from
USDA Rural Development, Illinois]