Transform Rockford Volunteer Spotlight: Kim Kuborn

Kim Kuborn
Age: 49

Occupation/profession: HR business partner, Danfoss Drives

In Rockford area since: Cherry Valley 2013 (Roscoe 1989-2013)

Transform Rockford involvement: Staffing Work Team. I serve on the team that is helping to recruit community members for the strategy work. We’re currently working with Segment Leads to determine Spoke Co-leads.

Quote: I am impressed with the level of commitment shown by everyone involved in Transform Rockford to really listen and respect all of the ideas and opinions coming from the public. We have the best chance for success when we truly listen to and consider the varying perspectives coming from our community members. It is important that we are inclusive in our efforts because it will take everyone working together to realize our goal of being a top-25 community by 2025.

Favorite thing about Rockford and why: I really appreciate all of the fantastic parks and forest preserves we have in our community. There are a lot of great recreation paths, and I enjoy getting out four or five times a week walking with our dog. It’s nice to watch the parks change with each season, even though the winters can be tough.

What are some recent signs of progress in the Rock River Valley? I think the transformation to the academy structure in the high schools is really going to pay off. I have been participating in the Alignment Rockford activities supporting the EMITT Academy for over two years and have been amazed at the progress made in a short time. I have a high degree of confidence that the district is on the right track with this approach, and it is a big part of the reason why I did not hesitate to buy a new home and move into the Rockford School District last summer. I can feel the momentum every time I meet with the teachers and administrators involved in the EMITT Academy; their passion is really contagious!

In 2025 I hope the first impression people have when they hear “Rockford” will be a positive one, and we will be enjoying the energy of a revitalized community where younger generations see great opportunities and choose to make it their home.


Transform Rockford leader: We need a plan to rebuild neighborhoods

By Mike Schablaske
Transform Rockford
January 24. 2015 6:00PM


From time to time during our community’s transformation, our resolve will be tested. Now is one of those times.

After discussion of the very significant issues facing Ellis Heights, Fairgrounds Valley Housing Development, and its residents, the community has no plan and no clear commitment to address the issues there. After Tuesday night’s vote at City Council to reject a plan, it was not at all clear what the next steps are for the city on these matters. It was not clear that the city even has much desire to address the issues.

At such times, I believe it is good to pause and measure how our intentions and actions compare to our community’s clearly stated expectations — expectations expressed in the community’s shared values. Here are some of my reflections.

1. The good news is that we likely have some unity — an important shared value — on this subject like never before. I believe we are all deeply frustrated to find ourselves without a plan that is supported by the community and its elected leadership.

2. I believe the shared value of responsibility holds us accountable for this current condition and challenges us all to participate in the solution to the fullest of our abilities.

3. The shared value of interconnectedness reminds me that we are all connected, and our region is only as strong as its most challenged and vulnerable neighborhood and residents.

4. The value of trustworthiness should cause us to commit to the highest levels of honesty and truthfulness on this subject.

5. Most of all, our community’s value of caring compels me to be concerned and to act.

We are in an unacceptable situation — to not have a plan or commitment to address these important issues. Great communities and their leaders tackle tough issues. To become a great community, we must act like one.

It is time to accept the invitation of Mayor Larry Morrissey, and begin a community conversation around this issue. We need to act on this. No plan and the status quo are unacceptable.

We must transform our region — including Ellis and Fairgrounds. If you do not think we should, I suggest you review our community’s shared vision and values. If you do not think we can, I suggest you consider the words written on this subject by Rockford Register columnist Chuck Sweeny — a man not known for unbridled enthusiasm and optimism. Chuck wrote, “We can do it!”

That’s right, Chuck. We can, and we will.

Mike Schablaske is executive director of Transform Rockford

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Culture, Unity, Pride: Celebrations to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day across Rockford area

ROCKFORD (WREX) – Churches, community groups and public officials plan volunteer events and services to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day across the Rockford area.

In Rockford, the Yes Club will host an event of song and dance. This year’s theme is a peace movement for improvement to bring freedom from drugs, alcohol, violence, crime and stress to local kids. It is from 1 to 3 at the Mendelssohn Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Beloit College is hosting its 11th annual convocation address in honor of Dr. King. The title of that message is “A Dream Deferred.” It is at 4:15 at the college’s Eaton Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

And statewide, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to attend City Year Chicago’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The group says they will have hundred of volunteers and partner with AmeriCorp to work in Chicago schools.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office says he will participate in a discussion about the civil rights leader with the mayor of Skokie Monday evening.


Transform Rockford Volunteer Spotlight: Brad Long

Name: Brad Long

Age: 46

Occupation/profession: Business Representative for Carpenters Local #792 in Rockford, and president of the Northwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council.

In Rockford since: 1968

Transform Rockford involvement: Segment lead

Quote: I appreciate the value Transform Rockford places on every voice being heard.

Favorite thing about Rockford and why: It’s kind of a “little big town” that has a lot to offer, yet everyone still knows each other.

What are some recent signs of progress in the Rock River Valley? Alignment Rockford is a great example of people coming together to embrace our school district for the betterment of our children and the entire community.

In 2025 I hope that we’ve built a community in which people want to work, play, live, and raise a family. I also hope that by 2025 we’ve continued down the path of improving our educational system, we have a thriving downtown, and we have quality jobs that pay living wages for all in our community.


Inclusion: Rockford Realtors, developers seek ways to attract millennials

ROCKFORD — Rockford stands to gain more jobs in the next 10 years than there are homes available for new workers to buy or rent. But that could change as developers begin taking advantage of the demand.

With fewer residences on the market and 1,900 jobs to be added by the aerospace cluster over the next decade, Realtors and developers are discussing ways to attract young talent to Rockford and keep it here.

Woodward plans to add 1,400 jobs over the next 10 years and AAR Corp.’s planned 200,000-square-foot repair hangar is expected to employ 500 people when it opens in early 2016.

Rockford closed 2014 with an inventory of 1,818 homes on the market, the lowest number in 12 years, according to statistics released Friday by Rockford Area Realtors.

That’s a good sign. A shrinking inventory indicates declining foreclosure numbers, fewer people moving away and more people buying. Last year was the second strongest for home sales since the bubble burst in 2008.

RAR CEO Steve Bois wants to facilitate residential development in Rockford aimed at accommodating the lifestyles of the 77 million working adults born from 1981 to 2000.

According to a Nielson report, this generation, nicknamed “millennials,” comprises 24 percent of the U.S. population, prefers urban to suburban living, drives less than previous generations and wields the most potential buying power of any age group since the baby boomers.

Bois and the Realtors organized the Young Professionals Network to survey millennials, HR directors and “headhunters” (talent scouts) who have had trouble recruiting them to Rockford in the past. The network’s goal: Find out why. What is Rockford missing?

“What we’re trying to do is understand what role we can play as an association in the recruitment and retention of talent,” Bois said. “Part of their decision to move here includes having a lifestyle they want. Good talent has options.”

Making Rockford a more attractive place for young people to live could help companies like Woodward and AAR recruit and keep young, talented employees. Why is that important?

“It all has to do with the sustainability of not only the company but the community,” said Shane Van Sickle, a 39-year-old developer for Landmark Real Estate Group.

Landmark primarily develops big-box stores and industrial parks, but Van Sickle is also a director at Rockford Area Realtors, a member of the YPN and has a keen interest in the future of Rockford’s residential and commercial development.

“People don’t get younger as the years go by,” he said. “If you’re not attracting the younger candidates, the tech-savvy folks … the community starts to wither.”

Van Sickle said YPN doesn’t know what Rockford would look like if it were to become a millennial Mecca. The results of their surveys won’t be available until the end of spring. But once it’s available, the group hopes its data will influence the direction of the city’s residential development.

“One of the focuses of the YPN group is to try to make sure that housing, or a lack of desirable housing, is not the reason that young professionals are not coming to the Rockford area,” Van Sickle said.

Lonnie Iske, 28, has been living on the 500 block of East State Street for five years. She’s a millennial who runs a video production company, Vixen Productions, and shoots everything from local TV commercials to weddings.

“I wanted to have a space where I could live and have my studio,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”

“There are so many great spaces down here. It’s perfect for artists. … It kind of gives you a creative feel, and I think the younger generation would really be able to admire that and do something with it.”

Iske says the neighborhood has changed since she moved downtown. More young people have begun to move downtown — she has friends who have moved into the Haight Village area.

“I encourage people who are afraid of downtown to come down here because it’s not scary. We have all these restaurants. There’s definitely a sense of community. People look out for each other. It almost feels like a neighborhood in a way.”

But a couple things could be holding development back. The monthly rent for renovated lofts and apartments downtown can run $1,000 to $2,000 a month — just beyond the financial grasp of many millennials, who entered the workforce during a period of recession and frozen wages, and are still at the low end of the pay scale.

Another obstacle is the lost neighborhood infrastructure of urban centers. Iske does not live within walking distance of a grocery.

“It would be awesome if we could have a grocery store, even a couple shops to just run into and get some day-to-day things,” she said. “That’s the one thing I miss the most.”

Ben Stanley: 815-987-1369;; @Ben_J_Stanley


Caring: Rockford Orthopedics Associates donates over $33,000 to Northern Illinois Food Bank

As the national day of service approaches, local businesses and organizations are doing their part to help those most in need. The Rockford Orthopedic Associates donated almost $32,757 to the Northern Illinois Food Bank to support the organization’s child nutrition programs throughout Winnebago County.
6458791_G“In Winnebago County nearly one in four children are at risk for hunger,” says Erik Jacobsen, Northern Illinois Food Bank’s communication manager. “That statistic really underscores how thankful we are to the Rockford Orthopedics Associates.”

These programs help to serve close to 1,300 children each week. For more than a decade, the Rockford Orthopedic Associates has helped donate more than $290,000 thousand dollars to the food bank.

Safety: City, county leaders to address community’s crime concerns

City of Rockford and Winnebago County leaders will join together on Thursday to address raising concerns from community members on the recent violence in the city.

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey, Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson, Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana and Rev. Edward Copeland will hold a joint press conference at Rockford International Airport on Thursday at 2:15 p.m. According to a press release from the City of Rockford, the news conference “will address the concerns about recent crime in the community.”

We here at WREX want to make sure you can watch this address from city and county leaders, so we will be airing this news conference live on WREX and streaming it live on Kristin Crowley will anchor our coverage from the studio, while Sean Muserallo will anchor our coverage from the airport.

Again, you can watch this news conference LIVE on 13 WREX at 2:15 p.m. or online at


Kiwanis Club to hold ‘Budding Artist’ showcase

ROCKFORD — The Kiwanis Club of Rockford will present its second annual Budding Artists event from 6 to 9 p.m. May 15 at the Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Club, 5151 Guilford Road.

Budding Artists provides an opportunity for selected artists from Rockford’s public high schools, Boylan Catholic High School and Rockford Lutheran High School to showcase their art at a gala evening event that includes an appetizer buffet dinner and a live auction of the students’ artwork. Proceeds will benefit the student artists, school arts programs and the Kiwanis Club of Rockford.

Tickets: $50. For information: