REINVESTING IN THE HEARTLAND
Illinois communities are committed to building resilient, diversified economies — investing in local solutions that can create good new jobs for our workers to fill while sustaining opportunities in the long-run. There is no shortage of individuals working to make things happen for their families, their neighbors, and their community.
However, our goals and our investments are no longer aligned.
Many of our communities across the state have been narrowly focused, betting entirely on extractive economies. Industries like coal mining have provided well-paying jobs to hard-working miners for over 100 years. But in that time, the industry has changed — leaving the same communities behind.
The Community Futures Initiative was founded to acknowledge this changing power sector and changing economy — so we can roll up our sleeves and build an economy that works.
Fixing a boom-and-bust economy starts with taking a hard look at the data to make smart decisions, spurring new jobs and industries for the next generation.
1. Taking a real look at the impact extractive economies are having on our communities today.
Coal and the Illinois Budget describes how our state continues to give a free ride to out-of-state corporations — handing out government subsidies and tax exemptions that have taken a toll on state and local budgets. By addressing these loopholes, we can balance our finances while funding job creating projects to strengthen communities and help Illinois’ hard-working families get ahead.
2. Addressing the legacy costs of extractive economies on lands and communities.
Communities across the state have been left behind by the coal industry — having been dragged through the cycle of “boom and bust,” expecting the boom would last longer than it did. These communities have seen the abandoned mine lands left unreclaimed and the hidden deferred costs that were put off for the current generation to pay. We have an opportunity to address these legacy costs, abandoned land sites and polluted waters, in a way that can promote long-term redevelopment.
3. Investing in home-grown solutions.
Even before mine closures, children in mining towns were often told to leave if they wanted to succeed. As youth move out of rural areas in droves, it is clear that no single big industry will come in to save the region.
We need smart, coordinated planning and investment to support individuals committed to staying in their communities, building self-sufficient economies that can last — without a cycle of boom and bust.