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CGS provides expertise that helps decision-makers implement efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective approaches to economic, social, and information management issues.


CGS Recent Work

Illinois Creative Economy Report

CGS partnered with Arts Alliance Illinois to facilitate research looking at policy directives related to building the creative economy in Illinois. Download the complete report including recommendations made to Governor Quinn. To learn more about the project, visit the Arts Alliance Illinois website.

NEW Policy Profile 

After five years of economic recovery, debate persists on the performance of Illinois compared to neighboring and competing states.  This edition of Policy Profiles takes a balanced, holistic approach to the debate and provides broader context for accusations that Illinois is losing jobs and businesses.  The article discusses how business starts and expansions outweigh companies leaving the state, and how slow employment growth is partly attributable to improving technology. Read the full profile here.  To read more Policy Profiles, visit the CGS Publications page

Grundy County Cluster Analysis

In October 2013, the Villages of Channahon and Minooka contracted with the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) at Northern Illinois University (NIU) to prepare a cluster analysis of the development area surrounding the Interstate 80/Brisbin Road Interchange.

The objective of the cluster analysis was to evaluate demographic and business trends and characteristics of Grundy County and the surrounding region, and ultimately identify concentrations of competing, complementary, and/or interdependent firms and industries which may have supply-chain relationships with each other and/or have common needs for talent, technology, and infrastructure.

Download the full report

National Main Street Conference 2014 Session Presentation

It Takes More Than Stores: Keeping your Downtown Alive in the Future

CGS Senior Research Scholar Norman Walzer and Research Associate Mim Evans presented a session on the importance of civic organizations understanding the changing demographics of their areas so they can help their communities prosper in the future. The next 5-10 years will see growth in older people and young adults while the middle age group will decline. Immigrants will be a larger presence in communities. These changes and how communities adapt to them will impact whether they grow or decline.

The session presented relevant demographic data and explained changes underway. How these changes can affect the customer base and characteristics of business owners were examined. Innovative ways that communities are addressing these changes was discussed. Learn more about demographic trends and how communities can prosper in the future.  To learn more about the Illinois Main Street, please visit the CGS Illinois Mainstreet page.

Main Street as a Downtown Revitalization Strategy in Illinois

The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Approach is widely used nationwide for as a downtown revitalization methodology. Illinois currently has 41 Main Street communities. This report examines recent experiences with the Illinois Main Street program and describes current activities of the Illinois local organizations to identify ways to reinvigorate the program and help executive directors revitalize their downtowns. Visit the Illinois Main Street page on the CGS site to view the report. 

State of Ingenuity Initiative

CGS is a partner in the State of Ingenuity (SOI) project funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and administered by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The SOI is a network of organizations pursuing economic development and job creation in a six-county region that spans northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. In early 2014, CGS coordinated a series of five courses designed for mid-career executives from the public, non-governmental, and private sectors interested in developing their understanding of the basic concepts, tools, and strategies to foster regional economic development. These courses were videotaped and available for viewing at no cost. Case studies were prepared for each course by the instructor. Click here to access these materials.

A report on sustainable funding for early stage small businesses also was developed by CGS as part of the SOI project. Intended to help local development practitioners and public officials gain insight into new and innovative approaches to helping entrepreneurs finance business starts, this report may be accessed here.

Management's Perceptions of Annual Financial Reporting White Paper

CGS Research Associate Dr. Shannon Sohl and NIU Public Administration faculty member Dr. Craig Maher prepared a white paper for the International City/County Management Association on the current state of local government financial reporting.  Click here to view their findings on how GASB financial statements affect management, provide benefits to stakeholders, and offer professional support and outreach. 

Promoting Prosperity in Northwest Illinois Report

Five counties in northwest Illinois - Carroll, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside - engaged CGS to explore how local economic, community, and business leaders can better promote business starts as well as expansion, attraction, and retention in the five-county region. This locally driven project is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and coordinated by county-level community and economic development agencies.  Learn more about industry cluster analyses.

Executive Summary | Full Report (30.55MB)

DeKalb Housing Report

A project that inventoried the housing stock in this community's 23 neighborhoods, analyzed over and under supply, and compared DeKalb's housing to other Illinois university towns. This information will help the City make cost-effective and sustainable development decisions and serve as a baseline to assess change in DeKalb's housing over time.  Learn more about the process of conducting housing studies.

Executive SummaryFull Report (9.08MB)

Rural Health Care White Paper Series

CGS, in partnership with the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, has developed a series on issues facing critical access hospitals in Illinois.  Learn more about research on healthcare policy and practices.

Issue 1:  
Enhancing Quality of Care in Rural Illinois 
April 2012

Issue 2:  
Collaborating for Effective Rural Health Care
January 2013

Issue 3:
Managing Healthy Communities in Rural Illinois
October 2013

CGS Events

Civic Leadership Academy

Registration for the 2014-2015 Civic Leadership Academy is now open. Plan to attend one or more of the 40 workshops offered during this upcoming season. The 2014-2015 season offers new locations, workshops, and partnerships! 
Learn more here.

Civic Leadership Academy Highlight

"Preparing Communities for Change", a Civic Leadership Academy workshop on the changing face of civic engagement, was held on November 12, 2014 at NIU's Naperville campus. Municipal and nonprofit leaders from throughout Illinois attended to learn about approaches and techniques for engaging residents on a range of issues. NIU researchers Tracy Rogers and Norman Walzer led the discussions and may be contacted for more information. Click here to access the presentation and here for a list of resources. 

CGS In the News

Enterprise Zone Assistance

CGS, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), has developed a single centralized location for obtaining much of the data needed to complete an Enterprise Zone application. Users of this site may generate a PDF report of the relevant data for all 10 Enterprise Zone criteria along with a map of the Local Labor Market Area (LLMA). Visit the Enterprise Zone Assistance website for more information.

Alternative Service Delivery

The Great Recession prompted a "new normal" for local government that caused some organizations to refocus their goals, structure, and service delivery methods. CGS Assistant Director Dawn Peters co-authored A Handbook of Alternative Service Delivery for Local Government that offers a guide to alternative service delivery methods. Through research of organizations that have ventured into these various alternative methods, this handbook provides information and insight local governments can use to provide public services more effectively and efficiently. Information about the e-book may be found here.

CGS and the Data Act

The DATA Act is a monumental piece of legislation - probably the most significant legislation for government since the passage of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1966.  With the signing of the DATA Act, our nation's leaders are now transititioning to the implementation phase.  It is critical that our leaders think holistically about any new developments for this Act.  The design and development of solutions should involve a variety of consumers as well as producers of financial information; this will ensure their reporting and analytic activities will be made easier and more effective. Most importantly, a standard data dictionary (taxonomy) and core repository is necessary to implement the DATA Act.  Read what Shannon Sohl, CGS research associate, recently wrote on this topic for the Sunlight Foundation blog.

CGS Innovation Recognized

CGS researchers Shannon Sohl and Sherrie Taylor were recognized by NIU's Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships for their innovation in the development of novel technologies and services in their application to address societal problems, meet the needs of society, and expand human opportunities. Shannon was honored for her work in developing digital financial reporting technology that can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government and non-profit financial reporting. Sherrie redesigned the Illinoisdata.com website into a data portal that uses a intuitive user interface to help people find information they need quickly, related it to other useful information, and produce quality maps and tables. Click here to read more

NIU receives Award for exemplary work in economic engagement

NIU was among an elite group of institutions to receive the Inaugural Economic Prosperity University Award from the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) at the association's 126th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.  Read more about the award.  

Transforming Government Reporting

CGS is leading NIU's digital financial reporting initiative to increase the transparency with which governments report their financial information.  New reporting technology can increase the timeliness, comparability, and ease of producing and consuming fiscal data while reducing borrowing costs for states and local governments.  A recent article in The Bond Buyer, a top trade newspaper for the municipal bond industry, by CGS research associate Shannon Sohl and co-author Marc Joffe discusses the benefits of digital financial reporting to the investor community. 

Breaking into local government: A guide book for career changers

With a record number of professional local government managers retiring, there is a gap in the talent pool the fill these chief administrative officer positions. To help fill this gap, the International City/County Management Association's Local Government Task Force, chaired by CGS Assistant Director Dawn S. Peters, created a guide for those looking to "break into local government" as a mid-career move.  Read this publication here

CGS Past Events

Midwest Leadership Institute

The Center for Governmental Studies is proud to announce the launch of the Midwest Leadership Institute March 31 - April 4. The goal of the Midwest Leadership Institute is to provide local government professionals a deeper understanding and mastery of core leadership concepts and experiences in order to increase their skills at managing people to achieve intended outcomes. Click here to learn more and register.

CGS and ILCMA Partnered for 6th Annual Illinois Financial Forecast Forum

The Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies Civic Leadership Academy and Illinois City/County Management Association hosted the sixth annual Illinois Financial Forecast Forum:Private Sector Views that will Impact the Public Sector on January 31, 2014.  Industry leaders presented on pertinent economic and financial issues affecting local governments in Illinois.  Click here to view presentations from the conference.

CGS Hosts Local Food Conference

CGS hosted a conference focused on Engaging Institutions in Developing Regional Food Systems on October 15 at the Loyola University of Chicago Ecology and Retreat Center.  Learn more about the conference here.