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Governor's Rural Affairs Council

The purpose of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life for rural Illinois residents.

The Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and the Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University shall continue to issue an Annual Report in accordance with Executive Order Number 13 of October 11, 1991. The council serves as a link between the state and local agencies to help improve the delivery of State of Illinois services to rural Illinois.

There are unique challenges affecting rural Illinois that have led to less access to important community resources, largely related to population decline. Members of the GRAC work to address these issues, from utilizing telemedicine, to improving healthcare access, to working with various stakeholders in business succession planning efforts to build a sustainable rural economy. The GRAC also collaborates with the Office of Lieutenant Governor on initiatives to further support rural communities. These include the Ag Connects Us All Agriculture Equity and Food Insecurity Initiative, the Farmer Equity Study, the community-engaged MAPPING project led by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, and more.


Committees propose recommendations based on current issues facing rural Illinois, which include population decline, an aging population, workforce recruitment concerns, mental health challenges, a rural/urban digital divide, as well as challenges to rural healthcare and education delivery. The recommendations also address the impact of COVID-19 on rural communities, small businesses, and overall economic development. The Council uses these recommendations to advise the Governor’s Office, General Assembly, and additional stakeholders on ways to advance policy and advocacy to improve the lives of rural Illinoisans.

Health and Healthcare Committee

Works to ensure that rural communities throughout Illinois have access to quality health care in all forms; addressing issues such as mental health care, access to telemedicine services, maternal health, gender-based violence prevention, and other health-related issues impacting rural communities.

Education and Workforce Committee

Focuses on public education, employment, labor mobility, access to higher education, and other work- and education-related issues impacting rural communities.

Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee

Aims to diversify the economic base of rural communities and sustain the Main Street economy. They engage in projects to support small businesses, expand broadband access, and implement further strategies for rural economic development and infrastructure expansion.

Council Updates

The first quarterly meeting of 2023 was held on March 2.

  • Council member Amy Bashiti from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) shared resources for rural homeowners, renters, local governments, affordable housing developers, and community-based organizations. She discussed IHDA’s community revitalization strategies for rural communities.

In December 2022, GRAC met with local leadership in Mattoon and connected the community with resources for affordable housing development. Today, IHDA continues to collaborate with the Mattoon in Motion working group on local housing efforts.

The Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee is developing a resource guide for rural community members and local government leadership to access grants, programs, and training.

The Health and Healthcare Committee is developing a on Telehealth Pilot Project with sites in Hillsboro and Lewistown. The SIU School of Medicine will service these sites.

Annual Reports

Upcoming Meetings

Previous Meetings