ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – 815 Day is just one example of how the city of Rockford is moving forward and improving the lives of everyone living in the area.
In 2012 Rockford ranked as one of the “Most Miserable Cities in America.” That mission became “Transform Rockford,” a group focused on turning Rockford into a top community by 2025. The group’s steering chair, LoRayne Logan, says we’ve made big strides over the last decade.
“(We’ve seen) growth within companies, employers staying here and expanding rather than moving, unemployment rate that is low,” she told 23 News.
But one issue stands out, inclusion, which city leaders make a priority.
“We need to make sure that everyone who is part of our community feels like they belong, feels like they have hope and feels like they’re connected,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.
Community events like 815 Day, Stroll On State, and the Forward for Fun Initiative were set up with that goal in mind, and are extremely popular. However, Mayor McNamara argues one area in desperate need of improvement is public safety.
“We can’t hide the fact that we have way too much violence, we’re losing far too many young people, and they’re wreaking too much havoc on our streets,” he said.
Logan says these violent events hide the “improvements” the city makes.
“I think addressing our own self concept, and really recognizing what a great community this is, what its strengths are, what its assets are, the change we’ve experienced, and knowing we can go even further, but we can’t trash it,” she said.
In terms of economic development, jobs are being added to the area as Rockford Chicago International Airport expands, plans for a casino are put in place, and companies like Amazon and Meta look to the Stateline for a new home.
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