STATELINE (WIFR) -- It was bittersweet for Don Manzullo, who left the capitol steps for the last time as Congressman. We had the chance to talk with Manzullo's replacement, Congressman Adam Kinzinger about filling such big shoes.
"Don Manzullo's a fantastic guy. He gave many, many years of service to his country and he's got many years left to give and He and I are friends. And I'm just honored to be the new 16th district congressman. I know I will have a lot of big shoes to fill but I look forward to spending the next couple of years earning that trust with people,” said Kinzinger.
Many Stateliners agree with Congressman Kinzinger's assessment of Don Manzullo. They argue he was a big advocate for manufacturing and job creation in our area.
In his 20-year tenure, Don Manzullo threw his support behind local manufacturing.
"Congressman Manzullo has been a tireless advocate for our manufacturing industry which has always been a significant part of our region and is really one of our greatest wealth creators in our region,” said Mark Podemski, Vice President for Development with RAEDC.
He helped secure funding to launch Eigerlab, which is where be aerospace got its start and also supported the Rockford airport, its expansion, and getting an international gate.
Small business growth was another area Manzullo pushed hard for.
"He focused on encouraging entrepreneurship and brought money back to the district for programs that would encourage business growth and entrepreneurial development,” said Einar Forsman with the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.
Forsman also says international trade was another item on Manzullo’s agenda. "He focused on delivering trade agreements for Korea and Panama that were crucial to advancing business growth. He was active in looking for fair trade with China."
Forsman says Manzullo was such a strong advocate in so many areas and he'll be missed
"He could speak as somebody who was a resident of the area to address our needs and we're going to miss that from him."
Manzullo also worked hard to try to bring an Embry-Riddle campus to Rockford. He traveled down south with other lawmakers to visit the Florida campus. Congressman Manzullo is definitely leaving his mark on the Stateline. There is even an award named after him, called the Manzullo Business Catalyst Award, for leaders who help advance the manufacturing industry.