If there’s one thing Rockford has a stereotype for it’s saying no to really transformative projects and ideas. Historically, we’ve been so anti-change that it seems every generation has its own list of Rockford’s missed opportunities. The community does a better job at listing what the city could have had rather than what it does.
Recently, however, Rockford’s begun to shed that persona. We’ve begun to take calculated risks that have landed the community some pretty impressive projects already. Projects that could have easily gone to a nearby town (the new Mercy hospital could have been built in Beloit); projects that have strengthened and educated our workforce (the RVC Aviation School and the dual 10-story maintenance repair facilities at the airport both required public money); and projects that will create hundreds of jobs but would not have existed without some public backing (the Indoor City Market, Amerock Hotel).
From all of this recent work, there’s been a newfound pride in the community. There’s more things to do, more places to work, more parts of the community revitalized than there had been in quite some time. This pride has become so palpable, in fact, that a local group has even made it their mission to get Rockford a city flag so we have something to wave around at our also-newly-created holiday—Rockford Day.
Yes, it finally feels like Rockford’s decades-long Eeyore mentality of perpetual despair is dissipating.
However, with each new project and transformative idea, Rockford tends to belly-up this cloud of despair once more. With all of those projects I listed, there were vociferous complaints and large efforts that were all nearly successful in adding to Rockford’s missed-opportunity pile. Now, while a healthy debate is always necessary, Rockford's debates tend to heavily rely on fear-mongering rather than actuality. This is happening again with the home rule debate (as discussed in this article), but that is not what this article is about.
Rockford is a great city with some hefty issues on its hands. And unfortunately, those hands have been tied for 30+ years making it ever more difficult for community leaders to address local concerns. It's time we take back our city from Springfield, and walk tall. Be proud to be a Rockfordian.
To vote no on home rule would be a tragic misstep. We've come so far in the last few years, it would be quite a shame to see Rockford trip up at this point.
Don’t be like the old Rockford that got us into this mess. Vote yes on home rule today.