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Morrissey: Pathway To Prosperity Is For Everyone

city of Rockford

Rockford Mayor delivers ambitious State of the City address

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey cited progress in public safety, collaborative efforts with local businesses and schools, and cost-containment of the city budget in his State of the City address Wednesday night.

He proposed a Human Relations Commission to address concerns over equity and respect in public issues, including fair housing. He also emphasized that the controversial geo-policing plan must be put into effect as soon as possible.

The mayor praised efforts to date in capital projects, including rebuilding the South Main Street area. He touted development successes like the Swedish-American regional cancer center and the recently announced Perryville Promenade with a Meijer’s  Superstore.

Morrissey outlined his vision of an educational collaboration:

“The alternative to having one big public university is to pull together all the smaller players into a managed, flexible network of providers. This is the idea behind the City University Network.”

The mayor also proposed a residential campus that would take advantage of the planned downtown recreational facility.

Another educational collaboration would create a center for art and design in downtown Rockford.

Morrissey also showed a video of local artisans using the Etsy website to sell their wares and touted the entrepreneurial possibilities to create local jobs.

Early on, Morrissey noted Rockford’s place on the Forbes magazine “most miserable cities” list and brushed it aside.

“We define ourselves by who we say we are … not by what others say.”

Morrissey challenged residents to change the image:

“We don’t need Forbes magazine to tell us the obvious, and we can’t allow Forbes to define us. We define ourselves by who we say we are, not by what others say.”

The mayor cited capital projects like the South Main Street developments, retail development expansion to the east and rebuilding the West State Street gateway to the city as major positive steps that will continue in 2013.

He elaborated on private-sector collaborations with the Rockford School District and suggested expanding that approach with colleges and universities represented locally in a City University of Rockford Network.

He proposed a residential-and-retail campus along the riverfront where students can take advantage of the proposed Ingersoll Sports facility.

Morrissey also repeated last year’s suggestion of a downtown center for art and design that would incorporate culinary arts as well as visual and performing arts.

The mayor presented a video of local residents’ entrepreneurial efforts on the Etsy website, citing the partnership as a national success story.

Morrissey said these opportunities must be open to everyone:

“The pathway to prosperity, it’s a pathway for everyone. We’re not going to segregate people who may be poor or have had challenges. We’re not going to relegate them to the past, relegate them to another part of our community. They are our community, we are their community. We’re one Rockford.”