Lt. Governor Sheila Simon chairs the 25-member Governor's Rural Affairs Council (GRAC), which is tasked with improving delivery of state services to rural Illinois and expanding opportunities for rural residents to enhance their quality of life.
Under Simon's leadership, the GRAC has worked to expand access to locally grown, healthy foods and emergency medical services (EMS) in rural areas, as well as other rural issues. Simon also serves as ambassador to the Illinois Main Street Program. You can read about all these initiatives here
The council was first created in 1987, but re-launched in 2011 by Executive Order 11-04
with a new mission and expanded community membership. The council helped create the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University, the Illinois Bond Bank, the Center for Rural Health, and the Illinois Main Street Program. In addition to providing grant funding to partner organizations like the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Western Illinois University, the council funded the Digital Main Street IT pilot project in Nauvoo and the One Laptop per Child pilot project at the Illinois School for the Deaf.
Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
Since 1989 the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University has provided timely research to Rural Affairs Council members on issues in rural Illinois. The IIRA continues to work closely with the Rural Affairs Council to ensure the council has the research and tools to meet its goals. To learn more about the IIRA click here
Rural Development Guide
Throughout fiscal year 2013, the GRAC and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) worked to compile a list of state programs and services relevant to rural areas. This resulting Rural Development Resource Guide is a searchable database which lists programs by program name, organization, category or keyword. Rural residents, community leaders and elected officials can access information about available government programs and how they can be accessed. Programs included range from agricultural to business development and tourism. Click here
to access the guide.
In accordance with the Executive Order establishing the GRAC, the council in partnership with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs issues an annual report detailing the council's work and the work of the partner agencies and organizations.