In 1910, the original members of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce were ready to make a difference. An ad in the Rockford Morning Star proudly proclaimed “These Citizens want Rockford to Grow Bigger and Better.”
Making Rockford better is what Transform Rockford is all about. There have been multiple efforts through the years to make Rockford the best city it can be. Transform differs from those efforts because we have enlisted the thoughts and opinions of citizens from all walks of life. It’s not just industrialists who are driving improvement in the city we call home, but all kinds of people who live, work and play here.
I’ve said and written a number of times that Rockford’s people will drive the city’s transformation. It’s not up to any organization or group of electeds, it’s job one for all of us.
I’m proud that LoRayne Logan and the Transform Rockford Steering Committee thought enough of me to offer me the job as executive director. It’s a part-time gig that I will give full-time effort to. Retirement was great, but the chance to make a difference is greater.
The community’s shared values — the values Transform embraces — are the values the Rockford Register Star’s Editorial Board championed for years. Our editorial board believed Rockford could change, to be a top 25 community. We dedicated special sections to the effort in Transform’s early years. We dedicated countless column inches to furthering the community’s goals.
I was opinion editor/editorial page editor of the Register Star for nearly 20 of my 40-year journalism career there. I wrote editorials praising those who did good work and chastising those who neglected their civic duty. I will do much of the same in the name of Transform Rockford.
We must demand accountability from those who are entrusted with the public’s welfare. That’s a job for everyone, not just Transform Rockford.
We also must demand results. This must be a safer community with a more educated populace. There are areas of blight all over the city and that can not be tolerated. In a community this diverse, we must demand equity and opportunity for all our residents.
I’d like to remind everyone of the Community’s Shared Vision, which was arrived at by engaging residents in multiple public forums. These are the values residents think are important in a vibrant, thriving city.
“We are a top 25 community where all people (emphasis mine) are valued, engaged, inspired and have access to opportunity for leading successful and fulfilling lives.
“Our community is recognized as one of the very best in the region in which to live. Our vibrant neighborhoods and cultural and recreational amenities draw people to our region. All people are thriving, have a sense of belonging, and enjoy an excellent quality of life.
“We have transformed our community by embracing our diversity, caring for our most vulnerable, providing equitable access to opportunity, investing and cultivating marginalized communities, and delivering an excellent education to all our children.
“We have an agile, innovative, robust and resilient economy built on manufacturing, logistics and agribusiness with growth and expansion opportunities for dynamic innovators, creators, makers and entrepreneurs. Our infrastructure is robust, our workforce is sought after and we capitalize on our adjacency to urban centers.”
In my more than 43 years as a Rockford resident I’ve seen the community progress. You can feel and see that civic pride is trending up. How else do you account for all those 815 and Rockford T-shirts?
There have been a lot of projects and initiatives that made it into the win column since Transform Rockford’s inception. We need to stack up wins.