Reports | Whitepapers & Journals

Recent Reports (2016-present)

New! DeKalb Revitalization Plan

The City of DeKalb advanced to the semi-finals of the America’s Best Communities Competition.  This report was the key piece in the City’s competitive entry.  The report presents a number of projects designed to work together to create a sustainable basis for economic growth.  A number of the proposed projects are in various stages of planning and development. FULL REPORT

New! City of DeKalb EDC Plan

CGS assisted the City of DeKalb in developing a citywide strategic plan encompassing a variety of topic areas.  This document focuses on the implementation of the economic development components of the overall plan. FULL REPORT

NEW!   Downtown Development Strategies in Illinois:
Assessing the Priorities of Municipal Leaders in Illinois

(2017) Retail and downtown issues are changing with Internet buying growing in importance. Consequently, local public officials are exploring alternative strategies and approaches to update the roles played by downtown areas to make them match the interests and preferences of residents. The changes include adding entertainment options, local arts and crafts, residential options, co-working opportunities, and linking with unique nearby attractions such as recreational areas. This article by Norman Walzer, Mim Evans and Michael Aquino, of CGS, reports the results of a statewide survey of Illinois mayors on innovative strategies used in enhancing downtowns. Read the full text in PDF form.

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NEW!  Community Supported Enterprises as a Local Investment Strategy

(2017) Aging business owners, declining markets because of population declines, and slow local economies have threatened essential businesses in many small rural communities. In response, local groups have organized efforts in which residents pool their funds to purchase or reinvigorate a threatened business that adds significantly to quality of life. These Community Supported Enterprises have grown in popularity with the advent of Crowd-funding techniques. Norman Walzer, of CGS, describes the results of a national sugy of how CSEs are organized, managed, and operated, along with their sucesses. Read the full text in PDF form.

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Illinois Municipal Policy Journal

(2016) 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.

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Unemployment, Labor Force Participation, and the Illinois Work Force

(2016) 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

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Emergence and Growth of Community Supported Enterprises

(2016) 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

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Archived Reports (2015 and prior)

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