As the year 2018 winds down, Transform Rockford reflects on big wins for the Rockford region in 2018. In no particular order, the top transformational wins in 2018 are listed below:
Family Justice Center Grant – In September of this year, the City of Rockford was awarded with a $450,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women which will help the process of making a Family Justice Center in the city a reality. The new center will be a centralized and trauma informed facility, where specialized organizations will work together so survivors and their children may safely and more easily access the services they need. The $450,000 grant will not only help establish the facility, but will pay for the first 18 months of operation.
Barber Colman Advanced Manufacturing Center – In October of this year, the City of Rockford approved a multi-million dollar development project between Rock Valley College and the Rockford Local Development Corporation on the proposed Barber Colman Advanced Manufacturing Center project. The former Barber Colman textile machine factory, located on South Main Street, will cost approximately $32.3 to renovate with the goal of growing its own workforce in the field of manufacturing. The new center also has potential to encourage more private development on the west side of, clean-up a blighted neighborhood and welcome visitors and residents to the city’s downtown River District.
Erickson Institute Education Partnership – In November of this year, Transform Rockford, Alignment Rockford and Rockford Public Schools announced a partnership with Erikson Institute with a goal of capturing data about the preparedness of our region’s kindergarteners. By using the Early Development Instrument (EDI), kindergarten teachers will assess our region’s youngest students, all the way down to the neighborhood level, and in May results will be released. At that time, our community will learn what’s working, what’s not and how do we align resources accordingly to better manage our student’s physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, communication skills, and language and cognitive development.
Chicago Rockford International Airport Ranked Top 22 – In July of this year, the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) ranked as the 22nd largest airport in the nation for air cargo volume, up from a ranking of 31 in 2016. RFD ranked ahead of major airports such as San Francisco International, Salt Lake City International, Orlando International and others. Nearly 1.4 billion pounds of cargo traveled through RFD in 2017, a 50 percent increase from the prior year. Many factors influence the airport’s growth including UPS and the most recent announcement of Amazon investing in an existing hub for its Prime shipping program at RFD.
Rockford is Making a Comeback – According to the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday, November 18 headline, “Rockford is Making a Comeback.” And it’s not only making a comeback, in October of this year Reader’s Digest named it one of the “15 Best Places to Move to, Before it Gets Too Crowded.” Residents are starting to see the Rockford Region with new eyes. They are feeling prouder of where they live and are showing that they have more confidence in the future.
“2018 was a good year for Rockford. Our region had several positive wins and a lot of these accomplishments will continue to move forward into 2019,” said Transform Rockford Executive Director David Sidney. “And while we’re seeing great growth and redevelopment, we still keep in mind that we have a lot of work ahead of us to become “Top 25 by 2025.” But I’m confident to say that we are seeing great alignment and collaboration that is foundational to our region’s future to be a place for all people, companies, and organization to thrive.”