A lot can happen in six years.

Since that moment in late 2013 when we gathered to learn the “brutal facts” facing the Rockford area, our community has been engaged in the challenging, yet rewarding, work of transforming our hometown into a Top 25 community.

Our mission at Transform Rockford has, and will continue to be, centered around the facilitation of a strategic plan, created and implemented by the community, for the purpose of dramatically improving the economic well-being of this community and its residents.

Six years into this journey of becoming a Top 25 community, we’ve reached halftime. Behind us is the hard work of crafting our strategy and setting things into motion. Ahead of us is the challenge of evaluating our progress, correcting course where needed, and attaining Top 25 status.

We began by gathering community input, forming a vision and developing our initial strategies. Since then, we’ve been rolling out more than 25 project teams working to implement those strategies. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our volunteers – amounting to nearly 300 people this past year alone – we’re seeing people and organizations collaborating in ways that never would have happened just six years ago.

The selfless contributions of our volunteers – and their employers, who enable them to support Transform Rockford, often on company time – is making a difference in many of our projects, including the Family Peace Center, which you can read more about HERE.

Because of volunteers like you who are all-in on making Rockford a Top 25 community, we’ve accomplished more than 40 percent of the outputs the community said we needed back in 2014. And because of your efforts we’ve begun nearly 80 percent of the key projects we’re committed to launching. Rockford’s transformation is a long game, though, and in some areas it’s still too early to strike. That’s why we know there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Approaching the next phase of our journey – review and evaluate – will require a long, hard look at the outcomes of our efforts. This is the point where we’ll identify what’s working and what’s not, and then pivot accordingly.

To help us get there, we’ll need a compass to help us gauge not only our present versus our past, but also our present versus our contemporaries. Thanks to the work of our scorecard team, we now have a tool capable of comparing ourselves against 100 similar metro areas using some 90 indicators, all aligned to our impact statements. This heat map provides our project teams with the critical data informing them of what they’ve accomplished and what remains to be accomplished.

We already know, from reviewing this Scorecard, that we’re making remarkable progress in many aspects. We know that crime rates are better now than they were five years ago, and we’ve made progress against other communities. We know our economy is growing in many ways. In education, too, we’re seeing positive signs.

Back in 2013, you, the community, saw there was hope for a path forward. Because you’ve rallied around the values and initiatives driving Transform Rockford, we are moving well along the path toward Top 25.

Because of your hard work and dedication to making Rockford a better place to live, we are transforming.

Thank you for your continued support of Transform Rockford and the community plan to achieve our Top 25 vision. You are part of something truly exceptional.

David Sidney, Transform Rockford Executive Director

Christie Jarrett, Transform Rockford Steering Committee Chair