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November 27, 2015
Putting Small Acres to Work
December 5, 2015, 4-H Memorial Camp, Monticello, IL 61856
Do you have a few extra acres you'd like to put to good use? Whether it's an old farmstead, a fallow green space, or a great big yard you'd rather not mow, you probably have some ideas about what it could become. "Putting a few extra acres to work can bring in additional income, provide an opportunity to experiment with a new enterprise, or develop an interest or hobby for its educational or entertainment value," said University of Illinois Extension local foods and small farms educator Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant. "How to get started is the question." Learn more and register here. 
Nonprofit Capacity Building Microgrant Program

The Community Foundation of East Central Illinois and the Lumpkin Family Foundation are offering $1500 grants for nonprofit staff and board members to attend training and professional development programs they choose. Microgrants are to be used to defray the cost of attending programs targeted at improving the management, governance and leadership of the applicant organization. Microgrants are awarded by region. Region 2 includes Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Moultrie, Piatt, and Vermilion. The submission deadline for Region 2 is December 11, 2015.
Rural Community Economic Development Conference
March 9-10, 2016 in Springfield

The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs will host the 27th Annual Economic Development Conference March 9-10, 2016, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, IL, in conjunction with the Governor's Rural Affairs Council and Rural Partners. Please note that the 2016 event will begin Wednesday and end Thursday.

This annual statewide conference is uniquely focused on improving the quality of life for small rural communities throughout the state, featuring approximately 20 speakers from Illinois and beyond, who will share their experience and expertise. The event will feature plenary and session speakers, as well as breakout sessions addressing strategies designed to teach your community not only to survive economic downturns, but also to thrive and prosper. We hope to see you there!

Illinois Electric Cooperative (IEC) is receiving a $25 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development for renewable energy improvements and smart grid technology. The upgrades will help improve 120 miles of distribution lines, and contribute to reliable and affordable electricity to residents served by IEC in the rural counties of Morgan, Pike, Scott, Greene, Calhoun, Adams, Brown, Cass, Jersey and Macoupin. More than $1 million of the total loan to IEC is for Smart grid. Smart grid increases the reliability of electric power by helping utilities better manage the electric grid to improve operational efficiencies.  It includes metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other improvements.
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