Connect SI: Regional Prosperity through Collaborations in Southern Illinois


This report from the  NADO Research Foundation, written with the support of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), explores how the 23 southernmost counties in Illinois collaborated to increase broadband Internet access to support economic development.

At the start of 2006, the broadband take rate for Southern Illinois – the number of households with access to broadband that buy it – was only 12 percent. Today, thanks in large part to the work of Connect SI (a not-for-profit charitable organization that supports a collaborative, regional economic strategy for the southern 20 counties of Illinois), broadband availability is much greater and the take rate is more than 54 percent.  The take rate for rural communities nationally is 66 percent.  Other economic development projects – in particular, the expansion of online health care education and services – have followed.

To meet its goals, Connect SI has embarked on community initiatives in broadband connectivity, health care, youth leadership, agriculture, and energy.  And it is providing the four regional planning and development commissions in its area with online tools to access and sort economic and demographic data.

Click here to download the report (PDF)


Joe McKinney has served as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations since 2012. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Land of Sky Regional Council in Asheville, North Carolina from 2003 to 2012. Under his leadership, Land of Sky became recognized nationally for its innovation in program areas including planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, aging services, volunteer services, and geographic information systems. Joe has also held various other roles in city, county, association, and government management. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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