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Reinvigorate Local EconomiesSupport Local GovernmentsPromote Balanced CommunitiesInform Sound Decision MakingReskill the Workforce


The Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University provides expertise that helps decision-makers implement efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective approaches to economic, social, and information management issues.


CGS Recent Work

Innovations in Organization Management

Changing lifestyles, declining public funding and a crowded nonprofit sector make it challenging for nonprofit organizations to find and retain well-qualified executive directors, recruit and keep volunteers, develop sustainable funding, and work within traditional committee structures.  CGS led an extended conversation among 36 successful Main Street executive directors on meeting these challenges.  This report includes their experiences and ideas, along with current thinking from nonprofit leaders nationwide.  The findings are then distilled into an easy to use Organization Solutions Grid.  Read it here.

New Policy Profile
Locally Produced Food: A Way To Grow More Food And The Economy

This Policy Profiles describes a new, small farm model for growing fresh food that creates jobs, enriches local food supplies, serves as a local business incubator, and enhances local economic development.  It will also retain locally more of the $48 billion Illinois residents sent out of state each year to purchase food and food products.  And the new model requires a minimal up-front investment of capital. Read this and more profiles here.

DeKalb Housing Information Project

Recognizing the role of housing in the community’s quality of life, and public and private finances, The City of DeKalb and Northern Illinois University continued their partnership to provide current and comprehensive data on housing in DeKalb. This study updates and expands upon housing information originally captured in the Year 1 DeKalb comprehensive housing database and related report produced in 2013. The Year 2 study includes most of the variables found in the Year 1 study plus data aggregated at the neighborhood level for university students, on-campus housing, rental housing, and DeKalb School District 428 students.

North Central Illinois Council of Governments Regional Analysis Report

In April 2014, the North Central Illinois Council of Governments (NCICG) contracted with CGS to prepare a regional analysis for its primary community development service area including Bureau, Grundy, LaSalle, Marshall, Putnam, and Stark counties. The objective of the regional analysis was to analyze demographic and business trends and characteristics of the region, and ultimately identify industry clusters, or concentrations of competing, complementary, and/or interdependent firms and industries which conduct business with each other and/or have common needs for talent, technology, and infrastructure. Click here to read the full report.

Illinois Critical Access Hospital Program: Learning from the Past, Building the Future

Executive Summary | Full Report

Critical access hospitals (CAHs) are important in rural areas not only providing access to health care, but also as local sources of employment. For this report the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN) collaborated with CGS to gain a better understanding of major demographic, economic, and policy changes affecting rural health care and how CAH designation has benefited CAHs in Illinois. Visit our page on research in healthcare policy to learn more about the work being done in this area.


CGS In the News

You say goodbye, I say Hello

Without growth among Hispanics, Illinois population would have plunged 80,000 from 2010 to 2014 July 21, 2015. Read the full article here.

CGS: Illinois population shifts: Rockford sees substantial decline; Naperville, Elgin, Aurora add residents

New U.S. Census Bureau estimates indicate that Rockford, the third largest city in Illinois, is leading the state in population decline. Read the full article here.

CGS: Illinois Leads Nation in Population Decline

New U.S. Census Bureau data shows Illinois had nearly 10,000 fewer residents in 2014 than in the previous year – the largest numerical decline of any state in the nation and the first statewide population dip since the mid-1980s. Read the full article here.

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 Events

Midwest Leadership Institute

The Center for Governmental Studies is proud to announce the launch of the Midwest Leadership Institute April 11-15, 2016. 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 for the 2016 Institute. 

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.

CGS Past Events

Future focus PREPARING FOR WORKFORCE 2020 Conference

A dependable and well-prepared workforce will be key to maintaining economic growth in the next several years. On February 19, 2015, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and CGS co-sponsored a conference to help decision-makers and practitioners identify and implement future-focused workforce enhancement strategies. Click here for more information. 

CGS and ILCMA Hosted 7th Annual Illinois Financial Forecast Forum

The Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies Civic Leadership Academy and Illinois City/County Management Association hosted the sold out Illinois Financial Forecast Forum: Private Sector Views that will Impact the Public Sector on January 30, 2015. Attendees heard presentations on pertinent economic and financial issues affecting local governments in Illinois. Click here to learn more about the event and download speaker presentations.