Welcome To Transformation

Welcome Stakeholders,

Beginning with the founders of our community and the hardscrabble existence they forged in 1834 alongside our iconic Rock River, many Rockfordians have set lofty goals and reached for stars they eventually grasped and held in the palms of their hands.  

Today, Transform Rockford is rallying and guiding the community as it bands together and attempts great things. 4,000 community members have given 65,000 hours toward our goal of becoming a top 25 community in the United States. 

We believe in the community’s broad engagement in the effort and in keeping our community’s vision and values at the center of the work. The transformation plan itself includes 130 projects aligned to achieve the community’s goals. To support each project, a group of community members and staff provide access to best practices information, tools and talent and assure efficient alignment of stakeholders and group resources. 

Today, Transform Rockford and the community at large can celebrate the fact that 45 projects of the 130 planned are already underway. And, we can – and should – celebrate much more. Contained in this booklet are stories of the many ways in which the Rockford region is already successful at national and world-class levels.   

Aerospace design, engineering and advanced manufacturing, a business sector that employs more than 4,300 people locally is a shining example of how we’re already better than top 25. Air cargo is another at RFD, the 24th busiest cargo airport in the nation (with a bullet as it is 44% busier than last year in October of 2017). Our Gold Medal-winning Rockord Park District and Sports Tourism Organization of the Year RACVB combine to drive world-class results for residents and visitors, alike in their management and promotion our sports facilities. 

Underlying all these incredible stories are the collaborative spirit and bias for action exhibited by those who have blazed the trails and made success possible. They are stories of people working together, always supporting their teams and partners, always sharing the workload – and the credit. 

Someone described my role in Transform Rockford as an “air traffic controller.” I’ll take that, humbly and gladly. It has been my privilege these past few years to lead this movement and help shape its relationship with the community as my teammates and I strive to steer the region’s progress. But, as often happens in cases like this, I imagine, I find myself in a constant state of wonder and amazement as I’m shaped and re-shaped by the community and my interactions with all its wonderful people. 

A recent example; we asked a group of students at BAMIT Academy at Jefferson High School  to express what they love about Rockford while helping us create a photo backdrop for this letter. The light shining from these young, talented people reminds me why we’re doing what we’re doing. Their energy girds me for the work ahead. And we all know there’s much more work to do!   

On behalf of the Transform Rockford steering committee, staff and volunteers, I want to say thank you. And, please; if you haven’t yet joined the Transform movement, please do so today. We would deeply appreciate your participation and energy. 

Very Truly,

Mike Schablaske
Executive Director
Transform Rockford