Local Organization Plans to Bring More Business to Downtown Rockford

By: Stephen Johnson
By: Stephen Johnson

Workshops are free but seating is limited. Please register to cathy.mcdermott@rrdp.org or 815-977-5124. Thanks so much.

-Promoting Your Storefront, Thurs Jan 19 4-6pm at Wired Cafe, 414 E State Street

-Financing Your Storefront, Thurs Feb 16 3-5pm at Carlyle Brewing, 215 E State Street

-City Market Vendor Workshop, Thurs March 1 3:30-6pm at The Millennium Center, 220 S Madison Street

After opening her new resale shop last month, Salvaged by Sonya owner Sonya Dowdakin knows what Downtown Rockford offers small businesses that other locations do not.

"I love the ambiance of the downtown area and the character. I think that a lot of the business owners are passionate about what they do, what they sell, what they create. That's what we're all about down here."

Dowdakin could soon be joined by more new businesses attracted by that unique setting with some assistance from a downtown staple: the Rockford City Market.

The Storefront Center for Entrepreneurship, a new organization aimed at filling the empty shops that have plagued the district for decades, wants to use the seasonal event as a stepping stone for potential business owners, helping bring new life to downtown.

"What the city market does is that it provides a way for businesses to incubate. They can try different products out, they can try different marketing out to see what works for them to help build their business plan around that."

Several businesses have taken part in the city market since its opening in 2010 including Pasta Cucina which opened a full-time shop downtown in November. Owner Joe D'Astice says their location is a perfect fit after participating in the event and hopes more businesses follow suit.

"We're really hoping that downtown Rockford as lively and vibrant as it once was...even more so. And I think we're well on our way to that goal."

To help bring those new stores to Downtown Rockford, Storefront is hosting a series of workshops informing potential entrepreneurs on what they need in order to start their own business.

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