A compass to guide growth in the region

What direction is the Sauk Valley headed? By looking at the way we were, are, and will be, “Directions 2013” explores multiple possibilities. We encourage you to read it, keep it, and refer to it.

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

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Abraham Lincoln knew a thing or two about solving problems through effective planning and leadership.

Lincoln stated his strategy at the beginning of a speech he gave in 1858.

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

Good advice, then and now, for the citizens of the Land of Lincoln.

Today, Sauk Valley Media presents a 64-page special section. We call it “Directions 2013: The way we were, are, and will be.”

SVM reporters, photographers, and editors put together a comprehensive report – sort of a “State of the Sauk Valley” – that we hope will be a useful informational tool in the days and weeks ahead.

Our region faces difficult problems as well as bright opportunities. Last year, Sauk Valley Media reported on the ideas and themes from two books by Illinois authors: “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism” by Richard Longworth, and “Boomtown USA” by Jack Schultz.

Both authors encouraged new ways of thought and action to improve the economy of the rural Midwest.

Just as Longworth and Schultz set forth “where we are, and whither we are tending,” so does “Directions 2013.”

The section presents 12 topics that affect us all.

Health of our communities: The current economic state of the Sauk Valley, and where progress is being made.

Who we are, by the numbers: What the 2010 U.S. Census tells us about the people who live here.

Retail in the Sauk Valley: What local communities are doing to bring in more business.

The jobs outlook: How unemployment numbers have changed through the years, and what’s being done to attract new jobs.

Cooperation and consolidation: How cities and agencies find ways to work together.

Agriculture: How farming has advanced over the years.

The state of our schools: How area schools are preparing students for the future.

Education funding: How schools are dealing with declining financial aid from state government.

College preparations: Sauk Valley Community College’s efforts to build its courses around the needs of local employers.

Parks and recreation: How Sauk Valley park districts meet community needs with tighter budgets.

Transportation: How the roads, bridges and other means of getting around serve area residents and businesses.

Technology: How innovations affect how we bank, farm and receive health care.

Placed throughout “Directions 2013” are “Points of Progress” articles, which review completed projects and other plans for advancement.

Readers will find many advertisements that point out accomplishments of business and industry.

Taken together, the information in the section should help local residents “better judge what to do, and how to do it,” to support further progress across multiple fronts – just like Lincoln did.

As 16th president, Lincoln saved the Union and freed the slaves – huge accomplishments in and of themselves – but he also created land-grant universities, pushed for the transcontinental railroad, created the Department of Agriculture, personally tested new inventions to aid the war effort, and more.

And that’s the type of all-out effort the Sauk Valley needs.

We encourage you to read “Directions 2013,” keep it, and use the information as you influence your community’s future while directing your own.

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