Rockford #3?

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Being second is always good enough for most people, but Aurora is challenging Rockford's status as the state's second largest city.

The 2000 Census ranks Rockford's population of just over 150,000 as the second largest in the state, but Aurora officials have been conducting counts of their own and claim the city's population has grown to about 155,000 in the past two years, bypassing Rockford.

Rockford city leaders say they're not surprised that Chicago suburbs are growing at a faster pace than Rockford and don't expect the Forest City to make up the catch up any time soon.

"We knew this was inevitable just because of the way the growth patterns are and we're just going to continue to find ways to make Rockford as good and as large as it can be," said Mayor Doug Scott, City of Rockford.

Tourism officials say size doesn't really matter and they don't think losing the second city status will effect tourism, that's already taken hits recently.

"I think that we've got many other things that we can promote in addition to what we've promoted in the past. Like the fact that we have a wonderful river district," said Kim Wheeler, Executive Director of River District Association.

"I think we just need to keep a big city mentality and a big city attitude about ourselves and our future," said Wendy Perkes-Fischer, Rockford Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Perkes-Fischer said Rockford can always call itself the second largest city outside Chicagoland, but that will require changing some tourism brochures. And she says they'll just wait for the official numbers.

Interesting to note that Rockford's population did actually grow by seven percent in the 2000 census, and the mayor says he was very pleased with that.


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