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Monthly Archives: June 2014

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Community Vision Rally – July 9th @ Coronado!


Community Vision Rally

‘The Vision of the People”
July 9th @ the Coronado

Over the past few months, in 42 different sessions, you’ve shared your feelings about the future of our community. Because it’s not just one person’s agenda … it’s your ideas that will make the Rockford area a stronger place. Education … Jobs … Training … Safety … just some of the ideas in your vision of Rockford’s future.

The rally will include …

  • Review of the Shared Values;
  • “Look back” video on the Transform Rockford movement to date;
  • Presentation of the draft vision;
  • Information on the next steps in the process.
  • Feedback opportunities from attendees via Twitter, Live Chat, Polls, Surveys and SMS Voting

Ways to get involved and promote Community Vision Rally

Be there when YOUR community vision is revealed, Wednesday, July 9th at 6:30 at the Coronado.

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Economist Says Transform Rockford is Helping the City

Susan Longworth, senior business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Susan Longworth, senior business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

UPDATE — Researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago took a look at some manufacturing-dependent cities to see how they’ve improved over the last couple of decades.
On Thursday, they showed how some of them compare to Rockford.

The Industrial Cities Initiative takes a look at Aurora, Joliet, Fort Wayne, Gary, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Grand Rapids, Pontiac, Green Bay and Racine.

While comparing Rockford to the successful cities on that list, the reserve bank saw some similarities.

The researchers say that the biggest reason for success is that if a city knows what it is and where it wants to go.

“Cities that really knew themselves and have done that process of community interviews and really coming to a point where they understood themselves and had a common vision of where they wanted to go,” said economist Susan Longworth. “If there was one thing that unified the more successful cities, that was it. The fact that Rockford is going through that process, I think is a very useful undertaking.”

The researchers say that manufacturing jobs are coming back to these locations, but require a higher skill set than in the past.

The most important thing to do is to properly educate local students and to get them to stay in the area.

After months of sessions and suggestions from the community, Transform Rockford will reveal its vision on July 9th at the Coronado at its Community Vision Rally.


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Transform Rockford event LIVE on tonight



Tonight, Transform Rockford and the Rockford Chamber of Commerce are hosting a special Community Learning Session that you can see LIVE only on

The event is being held at the Illinois College of Medicine on Rockford’s near-east side starting at 6:00 p.m.  The event is open to the public, but if you can’t make it to the event, you can watch the full event live on our website.

13 News’ Ken DeCoster will also be a guest media panelist for tonight’s event, which will include a presentation from Susan Longworth, a Senior Business Economist with the Chicago Federal Reserve.  Longworth will be talking about the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Cities Initiative.


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Yard Signs still available…Pick one up today!


Yard Sign – Pick Up Locations

We are asking residents to place the yard signs at their homes or business locations throughout the region to promote the July 9 event.

Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
102 North Main Street
Rockford, Illinois
See directions

Hours: 8:30a.m. – 5:00p.m. Monday through Friday
Phone: 815.963.8111

Heartland Community Church
1280 South Alpine Road
Rockford, Illinois
See directions

Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Phone: 815-395-8000

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Transform Rockford to Host Community Vision Rally (WIFR)

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — Volunteers from Transform Rockford, a regional long-term planning effort to dramatically improve the social and economic condition of the Rockford Region, will hold a Community Vision Rally on Wednesday, July 9, from 6:30 to 800 p.m. at the Coronado Performing Arts Center in downtown Rockford.

The group will share the results of more than 40 community vision sessions and input from thousands of area residents that took place earlier this year. The event will include a review of the Shared Values; a “look back” video on the Transform Rockford movement to date; a presentation of the draft vision; and information on the next steps in the process.


See Calendar

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Transform Rockford: Charleston area a model for job growth, diversification


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Horse-drawn carriages carry thousands of visitors each year through streets lined with grand pre-Civil War homes, tiny slave quarters tucked behind them.

Shoppers along King Street lug Louis Vuitton and Ugg bags as bicycle cabs pedaled past college students, offering another open-air ride option for out-of-towners.

And then there are the miles of nearby Atlantic Ocean beaches, the Food Network-acclaimed restaurants featuring the city’s shrimp-and-grits staple, and the ever-present “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir” politesse.

History and Southern hospitality traditionally have driven the tourist economy of this city, founded in 1670 as Charles Towne. In 2013, the city was heralded as the No. 1 U.S. city for a third year by Conde Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Survey.

But in recent years, tourism has taken a back seat to faster-growing sectors of the region’s economy.

That’s been the case since the mid-1990s, when the Pentagon, faced with post-Cold War budget cuts, announced the decision to close the Charleston Naval Base, which employed 45,000 at its peak. About 20,000 people lost their jobs when the base shut down in 1996.

That shockwave jolted business and community leaders, who responded by adopting a regional approach to business recruitment and job training. The result is an economy built to hum in the 21st century on pillars that include aerospace and auto manufacturing.

With an unemployment rate of around 4 percent, compared with 9.2 percent for Rockford, and steady growth in overall population and in high-paying jobs, Charleston is a model of smart, diverse economic development.

Read Entire RRStar  Article

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You’re Invited to Attend a Special Community Learning Session ~ 6/26 @ University Of Illinois College Of Medicine

Special Community Learning Session


  •  Thursday June 26th @ University Of Illinois College Of Medicine~ 6:00pm



Join us for a special session to learn from a top economist with the Chicago Federal Reserve on their Industrial Cities Initiative (ICI). Susan Longworth, a Senior Business Economist for the Chicago Fed and editor of the book Industrial Cities Initiative, we will present their research and engage in a dialogue with attendees.

The event will be hosted at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine on Thursday, June 26th at 6:00 PM.  This event is open to the public at no charge.

The loss of manufacturing jobs has shaped the Midwest urban landscape for more than a half-century. However, just as most cities have lost manufacturing jobs to a greater or lesser degree, most are working – with more or less success – to offer a higher quality of life to their residents while striving to make these communities more resilient to social and economic changes.

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Yard Signs Still Available

Volunteers from Transform Rockford will distribute yard signs to help promote the upcoming Community Vision Rally.

The rally takes place Wed., July 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at the Coronado Performing Arts Center in downtown Rockford.

Yard signs will be available inside Heartland Church during regular business hours, at Rockford City Market each Friday and by request by visiting

Volunteers are asking residents to place the yard signs at their homes or business locations throughout the region to promote the July 9 event.

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Transform Rockford Volunteer Spotlight: Emily Keilback

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Volunteer spotlight

Name: Emily Keilback

Age: 31

Occupation/profession: Chief Advancement Officer with Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois.

In Rockford area since: I was born and raised in Winnebago, where I lived until 2000. I spent seven years living in Minnesota, Idaho, and Washington state before returning to Winnebago and the Rockford area in 2007.

Transform Rockford involvement: I have been a member of the Analysis Team since October 2013. The Analysis Team’s initial purpose was to collect data about other successful communities that can provide points of comparison to Rockford. As the Transform Rockford initiative moves forward, the Analysis Team will work to inform strategies, plans and tactics with ways to measure our success.

Quote: “One of the most inspiring elements of the Transform Rockford movement is our value of inclusion. Working at Girl Scouts, I see girls and families in our community with so many barriers to the most basic survival needs. I think it’s so incredible that Transform Rockford worked to remove as many of these barriers as possible to hear their voices — not just voices who represent them, but their own original voices — during community visioning sessions. I know as we move through this process that inclusion like this will be the only way we can all succeed.”

What’s new at Transform Rockford: Recently one of my local friends said, “What happened to Transform Rockford? Looks like another one of Rockford’s initiatives is already over with nothing to show for it.” Little did she know that large groups of volunteers have been meeting regularly for months to analyze all of the input from the thousands of people who collectively attended dozens of visioning sessions. All of the teams will need even more volunteers now because the hard work is yet to come — revealing the vision, and then creating strategies to make it happen.

What’s next: The Community Vision Rally is at 6:30 p.m. July 9 at the Coronado. This event will unveil the community’s vision for a “transformed” Rockford. All of the input received from the Community Visioning Sessions, plus feedback during the Vision Drafting sessions, will be compiled and revealed to the community at large. This vision is what will carry our work forward and set the standard we strive to achieve together.

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