"The broken Heartland"..."rough ride in Rockford"...those were the prominent headlines in Sunday’s Tribune spread about the Forest City. The article discussed decades of manufacturing woes, racial strife, and wrong paths taken. The reporter calls Rockford a splintered city and questions whether anyone would notice if Rockford’s economic wheels began to spin full speed again.
"I'm sure the article ruffled a lot of feathers--I'm sure people are upset to hear what they might have said at the very beginning, but maybe if we turn that into a positive and say, okay, if some of it is true, or it's all true, let's learn from our mistakes and go forward," says Gary Peters, CEO and President of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.
Peters says although the article exposed issues that plagued Rockford in the past, it was the positive aspects in the piece, new leadership, business growth, rail possibilities, Chicago’s sprawl that, he says, was encouraging.
"I'm beginning to see people wanting to make things happen and, boy, I want to be on that train with them because we have a great community here in Rockford," says Peters.
"I had an opportunity to talk to the writer for the Tribune for quite a while, and talk with him about our vision for the city. I talk about excellence everywhere and putting us back on the map and it's about recognizing our assets. I never feel sorry for Rockford, Illinois, we have too many things going for us, but the world isn't going to take care of us, we have to take care of ourselves. And it's about activity and action and moving forward aggressively," says Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey.
Mayor Morrissey says we're tapping into what he calls the genetics of our community--the independence and integrity that make our city strong.
"People, by and large, want this community moved forward. I think that's why I won on April 5th in the election. It's my job now as the leader of this community to provide opportunities for this community to take action and move forward...and that's what we're trying to do," says Morrissey.