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Building stronger regions through innovation and collaboration to

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

A Revitalization Plan for DeKalb, IL

DeKalb’s evolving relationship between the city, the university and other local entities has resulted in an exciting new climate for collaborative growth.  As a diverse 21st century city, DeKalb is looking for dynamic opportunities to grow its economy.  CGS assisted DeKalb  in completing a revitalization plan for the community as part of its entry in the America’s Best Communities Competition.  The plan proposes seven projects or programs, which when taken together, will not only grow the city’s economy but also its capacity to develop additional projects in the future.  The seven plan components include a food hub, virtual incubator, arts district, cowork space, STEAM center, branding and marketing program, and a leadership development institute.  A nonprofit led team of leaders drawn from all sectors of the community worked together to develop the plan and will continue to work together to implement each of the components. Read the plan here.

New Policy Profile
Workplace Turnover and Replacement in Downstate Illinois

A cautionary note is struck for Illinois’ economy in the most recent Policy Profiles by Northern Illinois University.  Entitled Workforce Turnover and Replacement in Downstate Illinois, it reports that Illinois is lagging other Midwestern states in the recovery of its workforce from the last recession, and that the problems exist in metropolitan counties and counties adjacent to metro areas as well as in rural areas.  The Policy Profiles concludes with a description of strategies used successfully in other states to address declining workforce trends. Read this and more profiles here.

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.


CGS In the News

Bilingual college grads are in demand, says NIU survey

The Center for Governmental Studies conducted an online survey during June/July 2015 with Northern Illinois employers, both businesses and non-profit organizations, to determine their current and future need for bilingual employees.  The survey findings suggest there is demand among Northern Illinois employers for bilingual college graduates.

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 Events

Illinois Financial Forecast Forum: Private Sector Views that will Impact the Public Sector

The Illinois City/County Managers Association and the Center for Governmental Studies Civic Leadership Academy invite you to attend the 7th annual Illinois Financial Forecast Forum. Industry experts from the financial, housing, automotive, land use, retail, real estate, and manufacturing sectors will on pertinent economic and financial issues affecting local governments in Illinois. Registration is now open!

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 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 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.