ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Being dubbed "miserable" by Forbes is still on the minds of Mayor Larry Morrissey and many in the audience during his 8th State of the City address. During the address, he laid out his plans to redefine Rockford.
“We define ourselves by who we say we are, not by what others say," says Morrissey.
He wasted no time in trashing Forbes magazine during his state of the city speech. However, the mayor didn’t hide the fact that the city has problems that can make it miserable, including a high crime rate, a hefty tax burden, and high unemployment. Despite all that, many in the audience walked away with a positive outlook on Rockford’s prospects.
"We definitely have challenges in Rockford to find a way to chart our own course. I think there is a desire by people to have it be us that creates the solution to our problems,” says Paul Callighan.
"It's good to see that he has a vision for us that says we still can do it. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of us on the outside, we're moving forward, Rockford has the talent here, the resources here, and we’re going to use it to make the city what it needs to be," says Vernon Hilton.
To help make the city what it needs to be, the mayor wants to create a city university network that would bring local colleges together with employers to teach students real life skills they can use right away, right here in Rockford. The mayor pointed to similar existing programs including the city's Fire and Police Explorer's program. These big plans received big applause from most of the audience.
“I think we have a lot going for us and Mayor Morrissey, what I love is he has such a vision. It's really easy to get caught up in the day to day bureaucracy of running a city, but he also takes on a visionary of what Rockford can be and that we have hope for a future here,” says Lorie Parker.
A future that will include new roads, a new rail station, and new businesses on the East and West side of the river.
The mayor announced a new partnership with the online company Etsy, which helps crafters sell their handmade products. Morrissey hopes this partnership will help local entrepreneurs build their skills and maybe even teach others how to create their own business.