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Category Archives: News

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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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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:

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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:


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Unity, Pride, Culture: 815: Fun around the Fourth … 8 fireworks displays from Freeport to Rockford and Beyond

Looking for a way to celebrate Independence Day? Here are eight places to catch fireworks displays.

The Fireworks Extravaganza & Midnight Ride of Paul Revere at Rockford Speedway: 7:07 p.m. July 4. Fireworks display after racing. Gates will open at 5 p.m. General admission: $15; $8, children ages 6-11; free, children ages 5 and younger. Rockford Speedway, 9572 Forest Hills Road, Loves Park. For info: 815-633-1500;

Fourth of July festival: 2 p.m. to midnight July 1. Also 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 2 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 4, Village Square and Saelens Park, Durand. Featuring musical entertainment, a parade, an ice cream social, duck races, food and fireworks. Free.

Freeport Sky Concert: 2 to 10 p.m. July 2, Stephenson County Fairgrounds, 2250 S. Walnut Road, Freeport. Featuring live music, children’s activities, food vendors, an Abraham Lincoln presentation and fireworks. Freewill donations. For info: 815-232-9000;

Rockford Symphony Orchestra’s Independence Day Spectacular: 8 p.m. July 2, Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theatre at Rock Valley College, 3301 N. Mulford Road, Rockford. Featuring a concert of patriotic songs and fireworks. Cost: $30, adults; $29, students and seniors. For info:

Winnebago’s Fourth of July celebration: 5 p.m. to dusk July 3 and 7:30 a.m. to dusk July 4. Featuring food booths, amusement rides, car show and breakfast. A parade will be held at 10 a.m. July 4, followed by the opening ceremonies. Fireworks begin at dusk July 4 with viewing from the lawn of Winnebago Middle School, 407 N. Elida St., Winnebago. For info:

Rockford’s Fourth of July celebration: 6:50 p.m. to dusk July 4. The motorcycle parade begins at 6:50 p.m., the main parade begins at 7 p.m. in downtown Rockford. The SkyConcert Fireworks Show begins over downtown Rockford at 9:30 p.m. Admission to the Davis Park viewing area is $6; children 3 and younger are free with adult supervision. For information:

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