Message from the President: Sharing of Ideas

The Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) recently held their annual meeting in early August in Springfield. Cooperative directors and staff from across the state attend this event. Among the many excellent topics, there was a presentation that was especially pertinent to the rural areas served by electric cooperatives.

We have all heard and seen many examples in our local region of the decline of rural small cities, towns, villages, and the surrounding communities.

It was heartwarming to hear the views and work of Zachary Mannheimer and others with McClure Engineering Company (based in Iowa). Their place maker group works with rural communities and towns to revitalize and establish viable businesses that will hopefully attract and retain millennials and the younger generations who will establish roots in these areas.

Various surveys show that the younger generations want to move out of the cities and into more rural areas. Some of the key drivers mentioned included:

– Access to hi-speed internet service
– Flexible work hours
– Recreational activities
– Connecting across generations
– Cultural amenities and other related activities important to them

Interestingly, many of the successful examples cited included microbreweries serving as a catalyst for or spin-off from development. It is good to know there is activity to improve rural areas.

Passing the torch
At a recent EIEC employee safety meeting, a panel of retirees (with retirement dates ranging from 1997 to 2017) regaled current employees with humor, stories, lessons learned, and advice. Many of the retirees commented on the number of new (and young) faces in the audience.

Included among the various themes discussed were:
– The importance of safety in all aspects of the co-op
– Appreciation for the opportunity to work for EIEC and the pride they had in serving and representing members (who are the cooperative’s owners)
– Sharing of work practices and cooperation among cooperatives both statewide and nationally
– Changing technology over the years and the increasing pace of change
– Awareness of generational change and differences among employees
– The culture, spirit, and family nature of EIEC and of co-ops in general

As current employees, we are doing our best to continue the cooperative principles and legacy of over 80 years of dedicated service by employees throughout the years to our members.

We hope you will take time to enjoy the cooler weather as we transition into early fall on the calendar.


Bob Hunzinger