First Fridays Boosts Downtown Businesses

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DOWNTOWN ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Beautiful artwork by local artists, an intimate concert by local musicians, and a cup of locally brewed coffee. That's what Crystal Douglas' Wired Cafe has been offering to Rockford residents every first Friday of the month since opening more than two years ago.

"First Friday has been amazing for us," said Douglas. "I've enjoyed it because I've gotten to know a lot of the local artists and musicians. As you can see, it fills us up on Friday night. It's a fun time, we all enjoy it. And it's really gotten us out there."

Wired Cafe is one of dozens of downtown businesses that takes part in First Fridays Rockford. The monthly event, hosted by The Element, gives downtown businesses a chance to showcase local talent and offer special deals to customers

"First Friday now is pretty consistently their best night of the month," said Ed McCullough, director of The Element. "So it's a very consistent thing for several of the restaurants. It's really gotten to be a habit and a regular thing for some of their customers."

A new free shuttle bus began operation today, stopping at all participating businesses.

"I think it's a great concept," said Shawn Kelley, who has been coming out to First Fridays for over a year. "It's cool that all the different restaurants and bars and everyone are kind of working together to promote themselves and promote downtown and get people out."

Business owners like Crystal Douglas said they are seeing more and more people come out every month.

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