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Rural LISC is proud to feature our two newest partners in this month’s Partner in the Spotlight series. With the support of U.S. Bank, Rural LISC launched a competitive search and recently welcomed two Illinois organizations into the Rural LISC Partner Network: Illinois Community Action Development Corporation (ICADC) in Springfield and Elevate CCIC, Inc., a part of Mattoon in Motion, in Mattoon, Ill. With the addition of these two new partners, Rural LISC is now serving 88 partner organizations in more than 2,200 counties across 45 states.
“Rural America has incredible energy right now, there are so many opportunities, especially in workforce and economic development,” said Rural LISC Senior Program Officer Julia Malinowski. “Community Action Agencies often serve as backbones in rural communities, and we are excited to launch our partnerships with ICADC and Elevate. Both organization’s deep relationships on the ground and commitment to driving positive outcomes for rural communities are reflective of what it means to be a Rural LISC partner. We look forward to increasing our work in Rural Illinois and working with and through our new Rural LISC partners ICADC and Elevate to strengthen their efforts on the ground. We are proud to welcome them to the #OneLISC family.”
Both organizations have strong housing and economic development backgrounds, serving low to moderate income individuals and families in rural Illinois.
ICADC is a subsidiary of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies. Founded in 1999, it is a statewide community development organization created to enhance the affordable housing inventory in rural Illinois. It now works through the community action network to create affordable housing, create jobs, catalyze economic development and engage in financial opportunities that strengthen communities and the well-being of individuals and families in need. ICADC’s footprint covers all 102 counties in Illinois, with a focus on community development in rural areas. ICADC, in partnership with rural community action agencies, has a strong housing background, having co-developed three affordable housing developments totaling 139 units.
ICADC also partners with the state Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program (WIOA Works Illinois). Recognizing that workforce development is needed throughout Illinois, ICADC is interested in developing a rural Financial Opportunity Center.
Elevate’s parent organization, Mattoon in Motion, was created in the fall of 2017 when a cross-section of more than 80 passionate community members came together and participated in a series of planning sessions initiated by the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation and the MAPPING community-planning program offered by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University. The community plan resulted in the creation of a nonprofit, Mattoon in Motion, which is completely volunteer led and is dedicated to accomplishing six long-terms goals identified in the planning process. Over the last two years, the number of volunteer members has grown to 120 and a number of exciting milestones have been accomplished, the most prominent of which is the Elevate Cross-County Innovation Center.
The community plan identified a business incubator and innovation center as both an opportunity and a need for the region. In early 2019, the community received a $325,000 grant from Google as well as a USDA Rural Business Development Grant to fund the launch of Elevate, which is currently under development. The local telecommunications company is laying down fiber and covering the cost of service with the intent to use Elevate as a demonstration site for technology and small business incubation in rural communities. The Center is currently on track to open at the end of January.
ICADC and Elevate will now have access to Rural LISC’s array of resources, including grants and low cost loan and predevelopment funds, specialized technical assistance and training.
“Rural America is home to dedicated and hardworking people who are committed to the future of their families and their communities. Every rural resident wears multiple hats because they know that’s what it takes to get the job done. We are proud to partner with ICADC and Elevate to connect rural communities with additional resources, and we look forward to working with and through our partners to improve the lives of families through housing, workforce and economic development efforts,” Malinowski said.