New Southern IL Non-profit Announced
By West Kentucky Star Staff
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - On Wednesday, several southern Illinois announced the public launch of a new non-profit, One Shawnee.

The new community development organization's goal is to serve the economic and social needs of the Ohio River Valley and Shawnee National Forest regions of southernmost Illinois.

The Board President of One Shawnee, Patrick Windhorst, explained the need to take action.

"In almost every measurable category related to economic hardship, the poorest counties in Illinois largely reside in the Shawnee region," Windhorst said. "The percentage of those living in poverty, health outcomes, drug abuse, population decline and the number of home vacancies tell the story. Our region is in crisis and it's time to act like it." 

As a state representative, Windhorst understands that Illinois is not an attractive place right now for people and businesses to invest but hopes to change that. 

"While it's easy to use the state's failures as a scapegoat for our situation, that doesn't help us create solutions for a better future," he said. "The days of waiting around for the government to come rescue us are over."

The purpose of One Shawnee will not be to supplant any current organizations or institutions, but instead function as a "community quarterback" to facilitate a strategic plan for the region with buy-in from all stakeholders. 

One Shawnee's mission statement says:

"One Shawnee will generate planned action that culturally and economically rebuilds the Ohio River and Shawnee National Forest regions of southernmost Illinois on a shared vision of the future using a focused alliance of community groups, leaders, resource partners and stakeholders."

"We believe strongly that all of us - from elected officials and civic leaders to the clerk at the local convenience store - must have a say in the shared vision of the future we all get behind," Windhorst said. "People support what they help create. Co-ownership of a positive vision means that we all have a say in how we revitalize the region and we all have a part to play in the actual work."

One Shawnee is asking for immediate involvement from the public by participating in an online Community Survey. The survey can be found in the link below and will help the group better understand the attitudes and opinions of Shawnee Region residents as they begin their work. 

One Shawnee has scheduled a series of focus groups to take place in every county of the region over the next few months as well as potential online town halls.

On the Net:

Community Survey
"Getting Started: A plan for revitalizing the Shawnee Region"

Published 10:04 AM, Wednesday Jul. 08, 2020
Updated 10:49 PM, Wednesday Jul. 08, 2020



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