Knowing the many challenges local governments face, CMAP sought funding from the MacArthur Foundation, Illinois Department of Transportation, and Chicago Community Trust to build communities’ capacity to achieve their visions.
Testing ground for innovation
In 2018, CMAP created the pilot Capacity Building Program to assist local governments in implementing plans. The pilot began with four initiatives:
- Embedded Staff Planner program
- McHenry County coordinated investment study
- Leadership Academy
- Enhanced Local Technical Assistance
Embedded Staff Planner program
CMAP staff planners worked directly with two communities — Calumet Park and Sauk Village — providing on-location support. These efforts led to the villages receiving more than $3.75 million in grants, including a $1.5 million Rebuild Illinois grant for Calumet Park. They also worked on a range of projects, including revitalizing a major business corridor in Calumet Park and planning for a new 53-home “smart neighborhood” subdivision in Sauk Village.
McHenry County coordinated investment study
Staff facilitated the McHenry County coordinated investment study with the participation of more than 100 local governments. The result was the creation of a new county coordinator position and a shared online portal for intergovernmental coordination.
CMAP began developing a new program to provide trainings and professional development for local government officials and staff to implement ON TO 2050. Guidance and support will be offered to brief decision-makers on regional priorities, build critical skills, and help ensure all the region’s leaders can access the information and expertise to achieve local and regional goals.
Enhanced Local Technical Assistance
Staff developed an internal resource guide for the LTA program to provide targeted capacity building recommendations and activities catered to local needs for each plan. The plans can provide the groundwork for other capacity building services, and serve as a transition for communities that participate in the Embedded Staff Planner program.
Evolving to meet needs
In response to the pandemic, CMAP created three new programs to support and adapt to municipalities’ changing priorities. The intent was to achieve the same results of the earlier programs: increased municipal capacity, peer-to-peer network building, and increased regional coordinated investment through more informed, efficient, and innovative program delivery.
The three new programs were:
- NEXT program
- Resource, Opportunity, and Impact program
- Community collaborative
The NEXT program helps communities implement existing plans. CMAP’s work in Matteson began with helping the village implement its streetscape improvement plan, and grew to include revising the outdoor dining ordinance and other outdoor amenity improvements. The Lake County Land Bank received assistance to establish sustainable funding methods. They also created a pilot program in Round Lake to identify and track blighted, vacant, and abandoned properties.
Resource, Opportunity, and Impact program
The Resource, Opportunity, and Impact program aims to move forward transportation projects. CMAP helped Harvey identify seven priority transportation projects among 31 planned projects, three of which received funding. University Park got help in identifying the two village streets most in need of work and securing funding for a major traffic light project.
The collaborative was designed for a group of municipalities to address shared challenges. The first round, the Collaborative for Public Space Innovation, focused on creative uses of public space in response to the pandemic. Four communities — Berkeley, Harvey, Lemont and Morton Grove — engaged in idea sharing that resulted in four projects that are reasonably budgeted, replicable, and sustainable.