Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)

As its name implies, a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) lays out a regional plan for economic development. Its ultimate goal is to help our area have a stronger, more diverse regional economy. While the CEDS’ most critical function is to provide a regional economic development framework, it also serves as a required vehicle through which some federal agencies (especially the EDA) evaluate requests for grant assistance. With a CEDS plan approved by the federal government, a region is eligible to apply for federal economic development grants.

CEDS plan development is coordinated by Region 1 Planning Council, as the economic development district.

CEDS Development in Northern Illinois

Winnebago and Boone counties created the region’s first CEDS in 2010 through a process that aligned public sector, private sector, nonprofit and community partners, as well as public input, into a plan for regional development. The CEDS has successfully aided the region in receiving the following grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration:

  • A $6.1 million State of Ingenuity grant collaboration between Boone/Winnebago counties and Wisconsin counties to promote entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

  • A $2.7 million public works grant to upgrade roads around Chicago Rockford International Airport.

  • A $1.8 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant (through EDA and other federal agencies) to promote the region’s -aerospace cluster.

While preparing for the 2015 update of the CEDS, Winnebago and Boone counties began working with McHenry County more closely on collaboration to advance the shared manufacturing industries in the wider region. As McHenry County did not have a CEDS, it was agreed that the three counties would work together on the new CEDS update.

The EDA emphasizes that the CEDS is a planning process that includes representation from the main economic interests of the region including private sector representatives, public officials, community leaders, private individuals, representatives of workforce development boards, institutions of higher education, minority and labor groups, non-profit organizations and educational institutions. A CEDS Strategy Committee is charged with leading the effort and incorporating public input along the way.

The document outlines a development strategy rather than a laundry list of projects. Although an exhaustive list of projects is not included, the CEDS Strategy Committee should identify a list of key projects that are prioritized in line with regional assets and that will further the regional development strategy laid out in the document. These projects may in turn qualify for EDA grants, including those that provide capital investment funding.

If you have any questions about the CEDS plan or the planning process, please contact Jay Fieser at or call (815) 319-4180.