A Small Town Creates New Alliances for Community and Economic Development
There are many factors that contribute to the long-term success of any community, and some of those factors are certainly more controllable at the local level than others. Planners and futurists often suggest that education, health care, telecommunications and other public services, cultural diversity, transportation, housing, economic vitality, leadership, environmental stewardship, and many other socioeconomic factors will be important for creating a higher quality of life in the twenty-first century.
Although not every community is prepared to deal with such a range of topics, leaders in at least one small town in west central Illinois recently concluded there were only two options available to them: (1) observe change and let the future happen to them, or (2) take charge of their community's future and become participants in the process. For Table Grove, Illinois (pop. 408) residents, it became evident that the future was happening to them and that it was time to obtain the help they needed to start doing something about it. 1
Table Grove can be described as a western Illinois Mayberry. Everybody knows everybody. However, things were not going well. Between 1980 and 1990, Table Grove experienced a 17 percent decline in population. The population's median age (38.1) was 16 percent higher than the median age of Illinois. More than 25 percent of Table Grove's citizens were over 65 years and