Economist Says Transform Rockford is Helping the City

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UPDATE -- Researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago took a look at some manufacturing-dependent cities to see how they've improved over the last couple of decades.

On Thursday, they showed how some of them compare to Rockford.

The Industrial Cities Initiative takes a look at Aurora, Joliet, Fort Wayne, Gary, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Grand Rapids, Pontiac, Green Bay and Racine.

While comparing Rockford to the successful cities on that list, the reserve bank saw some similarities.

The researchers say that the biggest reason for success is that if a city knows what it is and where it wants to go.

"Cities that really knew themselves and have done that process of community interviews and really coming to a point where they understood themselves and had a common vision of where they wanted to go," said economist Susan Longworth. "If there was one thing that unified the more successful cities, that was it. The fact that Rockford is going through that process, I think is a very useful undertaking."

The researchers say that manufacturing jobs are coming back to these locations, but require a higher skill set than in the past.

The most important thing to do is to properly educate local students and to get them to stay in the area.

After months of sessions and suggestions from the community, Transform Rockford will reveal its vision on July 9th at the Coronado at its Community Vision Rally.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Manufacturing jobs have taken a massive hit in recent years and cities all over the country are struggling to build themselves back up.

In about an hour, the auditorium at the University of Illinois College of Medicine will be filled with people concerned with how Rockford can revive its manufacturing industry.

The special session is being hosted by Transform Rockford and the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. It’s a part of the movement’s community learning series.

Susan Longworth who is a senior business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and editor of the book “Industrial Cities Initiative will be on stage presenting research and leading a discussion. The research is from a project the Federal Reserve Bank conducted which focused on 10 manufacturing cities in the Midwest.

Longworth will explain what Rockford can do to get those jobs back into the area an how to build a bigger and brighter workforce.
The next event will take place on July 9. The Coronado will host a community vision rally.

Tonight’s event begins at 6 and is open to the public.

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