Population: 12,128,370
Counties: 101
Governor George H. Ryan
Key Laws/Administrative Actions/State Agencies/Organizations/Media/Regional/Calendar

Click here for the amount of protected land in Illinois, and click here to review Illinois's federal transportation spending.
Source:  Pew Center on the States & Changing Direction:  Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Surface Transportation Policy Project

Current Statewide Campaigns:
It Takes a Home (ITAH) Campaign
The ITAH Campaign, co-sponsored by the Statewide Housing Action Coalition (SHAC) and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, is a grass roots effort to create new state resources for homeless prevention. The campaign was initiated in 1999 and has already won an allocation of $1 million from the state to fund a new family homelessness prevention program.  In 2001, the Campaign is working to pass mortgage foreclosure prevention legislation.
To learn more about the campaign, click here

Contact information:
202 S. State, #1414 
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 939-6072

Key Laws:
Overview: For an overview of Illinois' planning and zoning statutes, see a summary provided by the American Planning Association .

To see proposed smart growth legislation in the Illinois Legisalure, visit

Farmland Preservation Act (1982)
This act mandates that state agencies must establish agricultural land preservation policies and working agreements with the Illinois Agriculture Department.  These working agreements will consist of an analysis of the impact of agricultural land conversions attributed to the agency's programs, regulations, procedures and operations.  The policy statement shall also detail measures that can be implemented to mitigate conversions to the maximum extent practicable. For more information on the act, please go to

Administrative Actions:
Illinois Brownfields Redevelopment Grant Program
The Redevelopment Grant Program will help communities with the following projects:

  • identify and prioritize brownfields sites
  • investigate and determine remediation objectives 
  • develop remedial action  which will pay for the following: site assessments, soil and groundwater sampling, environmental consultants, oversight, laboratory services, and participation in Site Remediation Program (SRP)
Environmental Remediation Tax Credit:
This Tax Credit provides an incentive for people redeveloping brownfields.  The added costs of redeveloping brownfields, when compared with the (subsidized) costs of greenfield development, are frequently cited by developers as the main disincentive towards brownfields.   The tax incentive will give taxpayers who pay for brownfields cleanups under the Site Remediation Program credit towards their Illinois income tax. Taxpayers who have not caused or contributed to contamination at the site will credit:
  • Remediation costs paid for investigating and cleaning up the site under the SRP.
  • The tax credit equals 25 percent of remediation costs in excess of $100,000 per site unless the site is located in an enterprise zone (then there is no threshold).
  • A maximum annual credit of $40,000 per site, with a maximum total credit of $150,000 per site.
State Agencies:
Illinois Main Street:
The Illinois Main Street Program promotes preservation-based downtown
revitalization. Based on a national model, the program provides training and technical assistance to participating communities through educational workshops and on-site consultation. Design services are available through a cooperative agreement with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The program is administered by the Illinois Department of
Commerce and Community Affairs with oversight by the lieutenant governor. Towns pay no membership fee but are responsible for financially supporting their local program.
Illinois Main Street helps communities:
  • Build an effective, volunteer-driven downtown management organization guided by professional staff and  broadly supported by the public and private sectors.
  • Enhance the downtown's design and appearance through historic preservation.
  • Create a unified, quality image and develop promotional strategies to bring people downtown.
  • Retain and strengthen existing downtown businesses, recruit appropriate new businesses, and develop economic restructuring strategies to sustain the vitality of the downtown.
The Main Street program represents one of the state's most effective public-private partnerships for economic development and community renewal. Originally, only towns with populations under 50,000 were eligible to participate. Strong interest from community leaders led to the program's expansion in 1995 to include the Chicago suburban
area. Although the city of Chicago administers its own Main Street program, those participants are also invited to attend state Main Street conferences and workshops.

Illinois FIRST:
Illinois FIRST is a fund for Infrastructure, Roads, Schools and Transit.  It is a five-year, $12 billion program designed by Governor George Ryan to build, repair and upgrade IllinoisÌ critical infrastructure. The primary targets of Illinois FIRST are aging and deteriorating roads and bridges, unfunded highway construction, revitalization of mass transit systems, construction of needed classroom space in growing school districts and repair of aging schools, clean-up of urban brownfields and other environmental hazards, upgrade of water and sewer systems and improvement of quality-of-life projects throughout the State. 

Open Land Trust Grant Program:
The grants, administered by the Department of Natural Resources, provide up to 50 percent state funding assistance for approved property acquisition projects. The maximum grant award for a single project is $2 million. Local project sponsors may be any unit of local government with statutory authority to acquire, develop and maintain land for public outdoor, natural resource related recreation.

Regional Realities in the Chicago Region
The latest study by Chicago Metropolis 2020, "Regional Realities: Measuring Progress Toward Shared Regional Goals," identifies and assesses progress in key areas of community life. It does so in the belief that social conditions inevitably influence the region's economic health.

The Metropolitan Initiative
The Metropolitan Initiative is an effort to help community, civic and business leadership in metropolitan regions achieve collective goals for the betterment of their regions. It parallels the work of the President's Council on Sustainable Development which also has encouraged innovation in the relationship between metropolitan areas and the federal government. 
The intention of The Metropolitan Initiative is to recraft the relationships between the federal government, states and metropolitan areas around three themes: 

  • Smart Citizens: Empowerment of local citizens through better access to more useful information. 
  • Smart Money: More creative use of existing federal expenditures, which represent 15-20% of regional economies. 

  • Smart Rules: Encouragement of locally appropriate and locally determined solutions to regional problems. 
"CTA Upfront about trying to attract more bicyclists," Chicago Tribune. June 11, 2001.

"Tolls not big issue, but the traffic is," Chicago Tribune. May 16, 2001.

"Answer for gas prices: Bus, bike, shoe leather," Chicago Tribune. April 25, 2001.

"Sprawl threatens way of life in tiny Gilberts," Chicago Tribune. April 23, 2001.

"Air base transformed into 'new city'," Chicago Tribune. April 16, 2001.

"State-owned farms in Kane?" Chicago Sun-Times. April 2, 2001. 

"Prairie Crossing," Terrain. Issue 9, Spring 2001.

"Kane's Farmland Protection Plan Advances," Chicago Tribune. February 21, 2001

"Affordable Housing Plan is Rejected," Chicago Tribune. February 6, 2001

"City to try mini-plan on major traffic," Chicago Tribune. January 25, 2001.

Campaign for Sensible Growth
The Campaign is a coalition of 175 business, civic and government groups that promotes strategies to enhance the economic vitality of the six-county Chicago region and the state of Illinois while preserving open space, minimizing the need for costly new infrastructure and improving the livability of our communities. The goals of the Campaign are to:

  • Strengthen the economic competitiveness of the state through smarter use of infrastructure investment and incentives;
  • Revitalize and support existing communities; and
  • Promote new development that is more walkable, transit-friendly and preserves natural resources in newly developing areas.
The Campaign has published three Changing Faces Guidebooks on redevelopment, reinvestment and infill and sensible growth best practices; two reports on work with the Urban Land Institute: Creating Value Through Sensible Growth and Forging Partnerships to Overcome Community Resistance to Workforce Housing; and five Ideas@Work brochures: Sensible Growth Legislative Models from Nearby States; Beyond the Traffic Jam: Local Strategies to Reduce Congestion; Expanding Housing Options Through Inclusionary Zoning, Traffic Calming: Creating Livable Communities; and  Helping Families and Property managers Use Housing Choice Vouchers. All are available on the Campaign web site,, or by calling the Campaign Manager, 312-863-6009, for free copies. Campaign for Sensible Growth, 25 E. Washington, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60602. 

Center for Neighborhood Technology is a non-profit organization that
helps build prosperous, sustainable communities by linking economic
and community development with ecological improvement. The Center's
work in public policy, market development and community planning is grounded in the Chicago region and national in scope. 

The Great Lakes Information Network(GLIN)
GLIN is a partnership that provides one place online for people to find information relating to the binational Great Lakes region of North America. Thanks to its strong network of state, provincial, federal and regional partner agencies and organizations, GLIN has become a necessary component of  informed decision making, and a trusted and reliable source of information for those who live, work or have an interest in the Great Lakes region.  Respected across the Great Lakes region and around the world, GLIN offers a wealth of data and information about the regionís environment and economy, tourism, education and more.

Metropolitan Planning Council
Founded in 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of business and civic leaders committed to serving the public interest through the promotion and implementation of sensible planning and development policies necessary for a world-class Chicago region.  MPC conducts policy analysis, outreach and advocacy in partnership with public officials and community leaders to improve equity of opportunity and quality of life throughout metropolitan Chicago. 

Northeast-Midwest Institute
The Northeast-Midwest Institute is a Washington-based, private, non-profit, and non-partisan research organization dedicated to economic vitality, environmental quality, and regional equity for Northeast and Midwest states. Formed in the mid-1970's, it fulfills its mission by conducting research and analysis, developing and advancing innovative
policy, providing evaluation of key federal programs, disseminating information, and highlighting sound economic and environmental technologies and practices. 

Openlands Project
The Openlands Project protects, expands, and enhances open space - land and water - to provide a healthy natural environment, as well as a more livable place, for all people of northeastern Illinois. Openlands Project works throughout the thirteen counties that include and surround Chicago and also focuses on natural resources that cross into southeastern
Wisconsin and northwestern Indiana.  Openlands' report Under Pressure: Land
Consumption in the Chicago Region 1998-2028 examines likely future land
development patterns in the greater Chicago Region and makes recommendations
for how to avoid a "business as usual" sprawl scenario.