The state of Rockford is strong. That was Mayor Larry Morrissey's message in his state of the city speech Thursday night.
The Mayor presented a positive summary of the city's progress over the past year, his second year in office.
"Unemployment is lower, crime in our weed and seed zones has been reduced, we've balanced the budget with a lower property tax rate, the anti-truancy plan is rescuing our children," says Mayor Morrissey.
Morrissey emphasized the need for strong schools. He says the switch from school choice to zones in Rockford will add stability and strength.
"As go our schools so goes the city of Rockford," he says.
He cited the success of crime-fighting tactics like Weed and Seed.
"Weed and Seed aims to prevent, control and reduce violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity in high crime neighborhoods and as we push out criminals and improve order, we are supporting families, job opportunities and neighborhood revival," says Morrissey.
Mayor Morrissey also stressed the importance of passing a sales tax referendum in April to fund road improvements.
"Rockford, we need each other to make this happen, let's win this thing together."
Many audience members like the tactics our mayor is using to move Rockford forward.
"I thought it was excellent, it set some real hard goals for the city and sets a real vision for progress in this city, one we've needed for a long time," says Rockford Resident Valerie DeCastris.
"I really was impressed with the things that he's doing west of the city, the South Main area and West State and the downtown of course," says Audience Member Robert King.
Mayor Morrissey says improving downtown and capitalizing on the Riverfront are key to revitalizng our city. He says updating the MetroCentre will be central to that goal.
Mayor Morrissey spoke at length about making Rockford competitive in a global market, to do that he wants to bring Amtrack service back to Rockford, bring more jobs to the area, increase access to higher education and to think about our most basic issues: schools, the economy, housing and crime in innovative ways.