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Reports | Whitepapers & Journals

Recent Reports

NEW! Illinois Municipal Policy Journal

Two publications by CGS research associates are included in the inaugural issue of the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal (Winter 2016). This issue includes an article by Cory Poris Plasch and Norman Walzer on shared services. Shannon Sohl, Andy Blanke and Norman Walzer also have an article on determinants of unrestricted net reserves in Illinois municipalities. The IML is distributing copies to the General Assembly and mayors. The full inaugural issue of the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal is available at; this is now live on IML’s website.

NEW! Unemployment, Labor Force Participation, and the Illinois Work Force

The relatively slow economic recovery in Illinois following the 2009 recession has been a frequent topic of debate among policymakers, business leaders, and the news media, with each group judging the state’s performance using a different measure. Business starts and employment, or unemployment, rates are commonly cited, but others argue that changing labor force participation rates may have caused unemployment rates to lose some of their traditional meaning. Full Report

NEW! Emergence and Growth of Community Supported Enterprises

Local development agencies organize groups of residents to invest in business ventures commonly known as Community Supported Enterprises or Businesses. These ventures are often motivated by the potential loss of a grocery store, restaurant, or other establishment considered vital to quality of life in the community. Motivated by a need to maintain or build social capital, a group of residents pool their investments to purchase a building or on-going establishment and then hire an operator to manage the business with returns paid to the organizing agency. These agencies may be a nonprofit, LLC, Cooperative or other type of organization. Emergence and Support of Community Supported Enterprises is a North Central Regional Center for Rural Development funded project that examines how CSEs are organized and operate in several states. It involves a collaborative effort between the Center for Governmental Studies, University of Wisconsin Extensive, and Michigan State Extension.
Executive Summary| Full Report

NEW!  Innovations in Organization Managment

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.

DeKalb Housing Information Project

Project Team: The project was directed by Dr. Shannon Sohl and Mim Evans who were also primary report authors. The team responsible for project design, data collection and data analysis included CGS researchers Chia-Pao Hsu, Thomas Kazmierczak, Liang Tang, and DeSheng “Ben” Xu and NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences research.

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. Read the full report.

State of Illinois Economic Development Plan

CGS helped prepare a statewide economic development plan for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in 2014. The State of Illinois 2014 Economic Development Plan addresses key issues and opportunities facing all of Illinois’ communities. Read the Plan here.

North Central Illinois Council of Governments Regional Analysis Report

By: Brian Harger and Melissa Henriksen

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.

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

Executive Summary | Full Report

By: Melissa Henriksen, Norman Walzer & Andy Blanke

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.

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Project Team: Brian Richard, Andrew Blanke, Jennifer Foil, and Brian Harger

CGS recently completed a report that used the Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) tool to quantify the direct and indirect economic activity related to the military and defense industry in Illinois. The study looks at the economic impact of the state’s three active military installations: Scott Air Force Base near Belleville, the Rock Island Arsenal in the Quad Cities, and the Naval Station Great Lakes. In addition, Department of Defense (DoD) contracts with private sector companies and Illinois National Guard activities are evaluated. The report detailed the impacts by region, Congressional district and the state. Researchers also conducted a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats or SWOT analysis that looked at a variety of factors including quality of life, local military support efforts, state and national policy. The report was funded by a public-private partnership between the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation and former Lt. Governor Sheila Simon. 


Project Team: Brian Richard, Andrew Blanke, Brian Harger, Diana Robinson, and Ben Xu

A recent study completed by CGS detailed community college student outcomes and economic impacts for the Illinois Community College system and each of the 39 community college districts in the state. The report examined earnings gains for community college program completers, including the return on investment for specific programs, and provides demographic summaries of community college students. In addition, the economic impacts of college operations were quantified. The report was funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant.

Illinois Creative Economy Report

Project Team: Pat Inman, Katie Davison, Mim Evans, Brian Richard, and Diana Robinson

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.

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Grundy County and Laborshed Regional Cluster Analysis

By: Brian Harger and Melissa Henriksen

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.

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Main Street as a Downtown Revitalization Strategy in Illinois

By: Mim Evans, Norman Walzer and Andy Blanke

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. To learn more about the Illinois Mani Street, visit the Illinois Main Street page on the CGS site.

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State of Ingenuity Initiative

By: Brian Richard, Joey Lata, Jennifer Groce, Norman Walzer, Brian Harger, Andy Blanke

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. The report is intended to help local development practitioners and public officials gain insight into new and innovative approaches to helping entrepreneurs finance business starts.

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Promoting Prosperity in Northwest Illinois Report  

By: Brian Harger, Melissa Henriksen, Norman Walzer, and Andy Blanke

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.

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DeKalb Housing Report

By: Jennifer Groce and Shannon Sohl

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.

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Suburban Cook County Food System Assessment

By: Pat Inman and Katie Davison

CGS conducted a comprehensive analysis of the food system in Suburban Cook County. The ability to address inequality in access to fresh food is complicated by the complexity of the food system. Five main functions move food from farm to table: production, processing, distribution, access, and waste management. The interdependency of those functions creates a confusing and largely invisible web. Making food systems more visible allows regions to bring appropriate partners to the table for collaboration and helps government agencies make informed policy choices. Learn more about local food planning and technical assistance.
Full Report (1.23MB)

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Journals, White Papers, and Other Publications

Rural Health Care White Paper Series

By:Melissa Henriksen, Norman Walzer, and Andy Blanke

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.

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Issue 1, April 2012:
Enhancing Quality of Care in Rural Illinois
Interactive ReportReport for Print

Issue 2, January 2013:
Collaborating for Effective Rural Health Care
Interactive Report | Report for Print

Issue 3, October 2013:
Managing Healthy Communities in Rural Illinois
Interactive Report | Report for Print

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Management's Perceptions of Annual Financial Reporting White Paper

Dr. Craig S. Maher and Dr. Shannon N. Sohl, CPA, (December 2013). International City/County Management Association.

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. The paper includes findings on how GASB financial statements affect management, provide benefits to stakeholders, and offer professional support and outreach.

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Measuring Community Development: What Have We Learned?

Andrew S. Blanke and Norman Walzer (December 2013). Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society. Vol 44., No. 5.

This paper, published in Community Development (December 2013), reviews the history of outcome measurement in community development organizations and describes innovative and emerging measurement practices. The paper describes several development organizations that have been successful in improving service delivery by adopting outcome measurement practices with technical assistance from national and regional grantors, a focus on social, environmental, and economic goals, and reduction of evaluation cost through secondary data or inexpensive case study methodology.

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Breaking into local government: A guide book for career changers

International City/County Management Association Breaking into Local Government Task Force, Dawn S. Peters, Chair (2013).

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. In order to help fill this gap, ICMA has created this Guide to provide resources for those looking to "break into local government' as a mid-career move. This Guide features case studies that highlight the non-traditional career paths of various ICMA members including the transition from the private sector, federal or state government, and military as well as a number of resources that are available to help ease the transition into professional local government management.

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Community Responses to Disaster

Edited by Brent Hales, Norman Walzer, and James Calvin. (December 2012). Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society. Vol. 43, No.5.

This special issue on “Community Responses to Disaster” includes papers dealing with innovative ways in which cities and/or countries have responded to natural disasters with special focus on using best practices of community development. Articles show that use of the community capitals can be important in rebuilding areas hit by natural disasters.

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Innovative Community Change

Edited by Norman Walzer and Sam Cordes. (February 2012). Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society. Vol. 43, No. 1.

Many communities are taking a systematic approach to community change strategies and this special issue examines some of the best practices that have been identified across the U.S. Many of the articles involve engaging and training local leaders to engage better in finding workable solutions to reach their community objectives.

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Business Starts in the Midwest: Potential Entrepreneurial Groups

Norman Walzer and Andrew S. Blanke. (July 2013).   Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society. Vol. 44, No.3. 

This paper, accepted for publication in Community Development, (September 2013) examines the percentage change in business starts in 850 counties in nine Midwestern states to identify population groups that are correlated with business starts in their counties. The article indicates that five groups are especially important including: percent females between 25 and 34 years of age, percent of population between 54 and 65 years, Hispanic populations as a proxy for immigrants, percent unemployed, and farmers with less than 260 acres. The results of this paper can help development practitioners identify groups to target programs.

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CGS Contact

Center for Governmental Studies

Northern Illinois University
148 North 3rd Street
DeKalb, Illinois 60115-2828

Phone: 815-753-1907
Fax:  815-753-7278