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Author Archives: transformrockford

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NIU Engineering @ RVC Wins National Award for Talent and Place Development

The nation’s leading organization for university-led economic development has chosen a partnership between Northern Illinois University (NIU) and Rock Valley College (RVC) as this year’s best example of improving a community through local talent development.  The University Economic Development Association (UEDA) has honored NIU Engineering @ RVC with an Award of Excellence for Talent and Place Development.

Now in its second year, the community-based, industry-integrated engineering program marks a new level of collaboration between higher education and industry to address a looming engineering talent shortage in the Rockford area.  Rockford area students take their first two years of engineering courses at Rock Valley College, then transition seamlessly to courses taught by NIU College of Engineering & Engineering Technology faculty on the campus of RVC.   Students gain valuable experience in paid internships with local companies and can access scholarship funds raised by Rockford area supporters of the program.

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RAEDC 2017 Annual Meeting w/ Guest Speaker Dr. Kevin Fleming

Date: November 15, 2017
Time: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Giovanni’s Restaurant & Convention Center
610 N. Bell School Rd.
Rockford, IL 61107

Register at:

The RAEDC Board of Directors and Staff are proud to welcome Dr. Kevin Fleming, producer of the viral animation video “Success in the New Economy,” and author of the bestseller, “(Re)Defining the Goal”.

Dr. Fleming is a passionate advocate for ensuring all students enter the labor market with a competitive advantage. He currently supports over 40 Career & Technical Education programs as a Dean of Instruction, CTE at Norco College (part of Riverside Community College District, California) and serves as vice president for the California Community College Association for Occupational Education. Previously, he analyzed industry trends and workforce needs while providing customized geospatial labor market research for the largest higher education system in the world: the California Community Colleges.

Dr. Fleming is a faculty member, national speaker, and recovering academic elitist. A true life-long learner, he has earned two Bachelor’s degrees from Loyola Marymount University (Psychology & Philosophy); a Master of Arts from The Ohio State University (Educational Policy & Leadership), a MBA from the University of Redlands, and a Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate University…but it was his CTE industry certification in geographical information systems (GIS) that lifted him out of working poverty. He is a proud eagle scout, father, has completed 5 marathons, and won a spelling bee in the third grade.

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Improving & Strengthening Neighborhoods

The Great Neighborhoods Rockford Region project is underway. Using best practices identified by the Family & Neighborhoods spoke team, the project team partnered with three neighborhood associations to pilot the Great Neighborhoods project.  The project helps neighborhoods discovery and define their assets through in-person and online mapping tools, gaps in achieving the vision for their neighborhood, and developing actions around advocacy, doing, and branding and marketing.

The team held a press conference on Friday, October 27 and were recently highlighted by the Rockford Register Star:

The project team will spend the next few months to learn from the piloting process and begin scaling the project throughout the region Rockford starting in 2018.   To learn more about the project:


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T-Map Project; Community Safety Engagement: Rockford Police Teach Lessons On The Hardwood

ROCKFORD – “I call it community relations, community building,” said Marcus Hill, Resident Service Manager with the Rockford Housing Authority.

Hill and Rockford Police Assistant Deputy Chief Mike Dalke gave kids from the Orton Keys housing project
skills that win on the court and in life.”Teamwork, trust, you know trusting in each other, and learning how to deal with conflict,” Hill said. “Learning how to win and also learning how to lose,” he added.

The Rockford Police and the Rockford Housing Authority hosted a basketball skills camp Thursday afternoon at the District 2 police station. “We’re trying to get to the youth, trying to get to individuals who are high risk and turn them, get them going on the right paths,” said Dalke.

The goal is to point them away from the path that leads to violent crime. Just this past Wednesday night a juvenile was shot by another teen on Auburn near Grant Avenue. In June, sixteen year old Jamie Rodgers was found shot to death on Kent Street, and in late May twelve year old Donavan Ruland was murdered by a sixteen year old gunman while riding on his ATV.

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T-Map Project: Community Safety Engagement

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T-Map Project; Innovation Ecosystem: Rockford Day seeking participation of local businesses

ROCKFORD — Rockford Day invites local businesses to join in the celebration by offering 815 Rockford-themed discounts and events Aug. 15 in Rockford.

Rockford Day, playing off the city’s primary area code of 815, is a community showcase of the places, activities and people that make Rockford unique through interactive experiences.

Area businesses, agencies and organizations will feature discounts or activities, products and services throughout the day.

There is no cost to participate. For information and to register offers by July 21:

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T-Map Project: Innovation Ecosystem

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Transformational Project; Downtown Development : City approves development agreement for Rockford Conference Center

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) — It may not be long before we see construction begin on the Rockford regional convention center. This comes as Rockford’s city council gives the green light on a development agreement for the project.

With a 9-4 vote, the city council approved the development agreement with a Rockford local development corporation, which allows the company to arrange financing for the conference center.

As the Amerock hotel project moves forward the city is working with R.L.D.C. to secure a nearly $12 million conventional construction loan to build the 40 thousand square-foot conference center.

The city plans to seek new market tax credits for the project. The tax credits would help save the city money on interest payments for the project budgeted at $12.5 million.

Developer Gary Gorman has purchased space surrounding the Amerock building for the construction of the convention center which Gorman would then lease from R.L.D.C.

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T-Map Project: Downtown Development

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Economy & Jobs: Rockford fishing website to attend convention in Orlando

ROCKFORD —, the Rockford-based online matching website that hooks fishermen with other enthusiasts to share costs and expertise, will attend the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades convention, set to be held July 12-14 in Orlando. will be sponsored by Fishing Tackle Retailer and will exhibit its platform along with 585 other exhibitors in the New Product Showcase. will compete for new product awards in 26 categories and for an overall Best of Show award.

The website was started in 2014 by Rock Valley College business professor and avid fisherman Stacy McCaskill.

The eventual goal of the website is to become the of the recreational fishing industry.

For information:

News Source:

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Unity, Pride, Culture: Rockford Big Dogs baseball wins Turning Batters Into Hitters tournament

ROCKFORD — The Rockford Big Dogs 15U baseball team won the 16U Turning Batters Into Hitters tournament, held July 7-9 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Big Dogs played seven games in three days and finished in first place out of 21 teams. Justin Kerestes earned the win in the championship, and Adam Kuhar picked up the save. Carson Blatchford was 1-3 with a triple and RBI, and Holden Paddock was 1-3 with three RBIs.

For information:

News Source:

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Leadership & Youth: Loves Park resident launches Rockford-centric T-shirt business Unstated Apparel

Loves Park resident and Rockford University alumnus Tanner Taylor launched his T-shirt screenprinting company, Unstated Apparel, on May 9. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

LOVES PARK — After working at his family’s screen printing shop for 13 years, Tanner Taylor decided it was time to start his own business.

On May 9, the Loves Park resident, 29, launched Unstated Apparel, a line of Rockford-, Illinois- and Wisconsin-themed T-shirts and tank tops for men and women.

Taylor said he has always been “artsy” and grew up with a love of drawing. He received his business administration degree at Rockford University and got on-the-job experience designing and producing custom sports jerseys at his family’s screen printing store, Exclusive Pro Sports, in Rockford. He noticed that pride for all things local had begun to swell and decided to tap the market with his own clothing line.

“There’s not a whole lot in the way of local shirts, apart from one company in Rockford, or (a line of clothing) that has to do with the state that’s not just the (outline of the) state slapped on a T-shirt,” he said.

One of Taylor’s designs, a “RKFD Born ‘N Raised” T-shirt, uses an “8” instead of a “B,” a “1” as the first leg of the “N,” and a “5” instead of an “S.” The numbers are aligned vertically to spell out “815.”

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Downtown Development: For some downtown Rockford businesses, dinner in a parking space can be delightful

Rockford Art Deli employee Kristin Hastings relaxes in the parklet outside of the store during her break Thursday, June 22, 2017, on North First Street in Rockford. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF]

“I saw these seats when I was driving past,” Diana Hamblock said over lunch outside at Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza, 408 E. State St. “I called (a friend) and said, ‘We have to go to eat there.’ “

Three downtown businesses have set up wooden platforms in streetside parking spaces, complete with seating areas and dividers to separate them from the road. The city calls them parklets. Customers see them as a nice space to eat outdoors, and the River District Association — which spearheaded the idea — calls them a part of downtown revitalization. Many incorporate greenery and shading, making them inviting stopping points for passersby as well as customers.

This year, Rockford Roasting Company and Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza joined Rockford Art Deli in installing parklets. David Bieck of Distinctive Creations designed and built all three. He said the cost ranges from $1,000 to $3,000, for a project that takes about a week.

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T-Map Projects: Downtown Development: