Neighbors meet in Delavan, discussing ways to propel rural areas forward


DELAVAN, Ill. — The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council is taking its big table discussions to villages and towns in the Greater Peoria area.

Wednesday, one of the meetings was held at Delavan High School. Community leaders said the first step to making regional change is gathering input from everyone.

It’s important that everyone gets engaged because the health of the region in total is important to everybody. We want their voices to be heard. We’re putting together a comphrensive economic development strategy for ‘how do we move this region forward’ and that region includes everybody.

Chris Setti, CEO | Greater Peoria EDC

The goals of these talks are to promote positivity and community input, find a regional vision for the future, and obtain regional data for everyone to learn from. During the meeting neighbors openly discussed issues—such as town revitalization, small business development, industry, jobs, housing, and broadband—and proposed projects and programs that support community and economic development in your area. 

It’s a chance to learn and collaborate with the other smaller rural communities and then go from there and narrow down what our priorities are going to be and move forward from there. It’s great when you can get together with people who have similar challenges.

Liz Skinner, Mayor | Delavan

Community members expressed their concerns in breakout sessions for about three hours.

“A lot of us are bedroom communities so finding ways to provide necessary services that our citizens are looking for,” owner of Eli’s Coffee Rachel Berchtold said. “Making sure that transportation is there making sure your workforce can get out from a bedroom community and making sure development is there to make that happen.”

In 2014, Delavan’s only grocery store burned down. Dr. Joe Flint, the owner of Delavan Pediatrics, said this forces residents to travel a distance to purchase fresh foods.

One of the main things we would like to have in Delavan is a grocery store…we’ve been without fresh meat and produce in the community.

Dr. Joe Flint, Delavan Pediatrics

Rural development coordinator, Tory Dahlhoff, said getting anything done takes many partners, people and time.

“We want people to know that making change, positive change in the region takes everybody,” Dahlhoff said.

There are two more open discussions available to anyone who can make them. Sessions include:

January 16- Brimfield
American Legion  |  121 W Knoxville St.
January 16, 4-7 p.m.

January 30- Lincoln
Lincoln College Performing Arts Center | 300 Keokuk St.
January 30, 4-7 p.m.


4:00 p.m. – Open House begins (continues throughout)
4:15 p.m. – Opening presentation – What are we here to do?
4:30 p.m. – Breakout session 1
5:15 p.m. – Refreshments break and rotate groups
5:30 p.m. – Breakout session 2
6:15 p.m. – Regroup, sharing, and goal setting
7:00 p.m. – Adjourn


1. Stay for the entire event and engage in multiple conversations and the goal-setting session.
2. Stop by anytime for the Open House to easily provide input on idea boards and maps.
3. Mix it up, arrive late, leave early—just make sure you have a voice at the Big Table!


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