We are beyond pleased to share this interview with our friend Chris Merrett from the IL Institute for Rural Affairs. Chris is the Director of the Institute, which is located on the campus of Western IL University in Macomb, IL. The institute oversees research, outreach, teaching, and policy development that is comprised of 20 community development faculty and professionals. He serves on the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and is the Chairperson of Rural Partners, which has raised over $6 million in external grant funding to support community and economic development outreach and research. Chris has researched and edited books on the topics of cooperatives and community development, and has published a range of articles on topics such as value-added agriculture, rural land use, social justice, and rural community and economic development.