Research Studies

University of Illinois Extension - Rural Vitality in Northern and Central Illinois Study, 2024

To help our rural communities thrive, rather than just survive, we must better understand their needs and priorities. This project used a survey, focus groups, and individual interviews to gather input from rural leaders throughout northern and central Illinois. This resulting white paper highlights what those community leaders think about the issues that most affect their community's overall vitality. Throughout, regional leaders shared their insights about the factors that drive their local economy, shape their physical infrastructure, and encourage active and wide-ranging civic engagement.
White Paper

Early Childhood Regional Needs Assessment Study for Region 8, 2023

The Birth to Five Illinois Early Childhood Regional Needs Assessment Study for Region 8 (Carroll, Jo Daviess, Stephenson Counties) is a compilation of NW Illinois's strengths, needs, and recommendations for how to improve our local Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs, services, and system. The report contains an executive summary and contact information for Birth to Five Illinois.
Study Plan

Jo Daviess County Workforce Housing Needs Assessment Study, 2022

The purpose of the study was to analyze the housing market in Jo Daviess County. The study assesses existing conditions, challenges, demands, and market restrictions. It also offers timely recommendations. 
Study Plan

Jo Daviess County Water Resource Management Plan, 2022

This planning process was facilitated by the University of Illinois Extension Office and the League of Women Voters of Jo Daviess County. The Workbook is a compilation of directly pertinent information for those taking action to achieve the goals and objectives of the water resource management plan.
Study Plan and Workbook

Northern Illinois Food Systems Network Study, 2022

While Northern Illinois is rich in agriculture and is home to the largest consumer market in the Midwest, little of the food consumed in the region is grown in the region. This time of disruption and change within food systems nationwide is an opportune moment to plan for a stronger northern Illinois food systems network. This study is a step in the planning process and was funded by the Chicago Region Food System Fund and the Illinois Farm Bureau, two organizations supporting Illinois agriculture and access to fresh foods for Illinois residents. The study was conducted by the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies (NIU-CGS) in collaboration with DeKalb County Community Gardens. 

Geographically, this study focuses on the following nine counties in northern Illinois: Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Winnebago, and Whiteside.
Executive Summary
Study Plan

Passenger Rail Extension Feasibility Study, 2022

In 2022 the East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA) completed a feasibility analysis for implementation of competitive intercity passenger rail service between Chicago, Illinois and Dubuque, Iowa as a potential way to meet the evolving transportation needs of eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois including growing urbanization; changes in traditional employment sectors; a surge in personal travel; an expanded global economy; increasing construction, maintenance, and fuel costs; and climate change awareness. The proposed service would support regional goals such as providing reliable and convenient alternative transportation options, reducing highway congestion and associated emissions, facilitating economic growth, catalyzing development and improving access between communities, and promoting connectivity with other transportation modes.

Bi-State Freight Study, 2018

In 2018 Blackhawk Hills and Regional Council (BHRC) and East Central Intergovernmental Association's (ECIA) completed the bi-state freight study to provide updated data for supply chain and freight needs.