2005 activities and accomplishments of River District Association

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Rockford’s River District Association (RDA) has made encouraging progress in 2005. As a continuing record of what has been accomplished so far, here is a progress report:

The River District Association received a Community Service Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA); nominated by Rockford Park District.

The RDA has produced seven monthly Historical Walk-Abouts with three to five volunteer tour guides and 20-75 patrons per tour. The group coordinated seven monthly Clean It Up trash pick-ups with two to five volunteers per month, and participated with 15 volunteers in the citywide clean-up June 4.

RDA produced several events: Annual Membership Meeting and dinner, Groove Walk (with On The Waterfront, Inc., Heart of Rockford Awards and Semi-Annual Membership Meeting, Red Ball black tie fund-raiser, three member mixers, five public meetings, MGD Live Music Walk, hosted and raised money with a food booth at OTW Festival.

RDA participated in monthly meetings with City of Rockford staff and worked with City of Gardens to promote and engage in beautification efforts for the America In Bloom Competition. RDA attended the America In Bloom Symposium in Cleveland, Ohio.

RDA purchased and planted eight large sidewalk planters; submitted and was accepted into the Illinois Main Street Program; attended the Illinois Main Street State Conference in Springfield, Ill.

RDA hired Farr Associates to determine development priorities and find funding sources related to the Framework Plan; coordinated and did fund-raising for 2005 downtown holiday lighting and decorations. RDA applied for and received commitment for $45,000 in marketing funds from an SBA grant through U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo’s office and administered by the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

RDA produced and printed the quarterly Crossings newsletter; continued to promote what’s happening in River District through a weekly appearance on WROK-1440 AM radio every Friday morning with Riley O’Neil; compiled and distributed a weekly e-newsletter of news and things to do to more than 600 people.

RDA started running a “Live It Up Downtown” image commercial on the WB network; distributed and displayed “Live It Up Downtown” posters around Rockford and on RMTD buses; distributed 40 “Experience Downtown Living” poster displays with contact information tear-off forms around Rockford.

RDA partnered with Budweiser/LaMonica Beverages to promote restaurants and retail shops with RocktoberFest advertising campaign.

RDA partnered with Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rockford Park District and Rockford Mass Transit to provide the RMTD Trolley and a parking area in response to parking challenges on busy days. RDA created a comprehensive reference book called “Downtown Developer’s Guide” to help with various areas of developing a building, especially for residential use.

RDA compiled and maintained a list of available commercial and residential properties; promoted Historical Walk-Abouts through its Rockin’ Summer Campaign. RDA recognized businesses at the Heart of Rockford Awards for their beautification efforts with a slide show and mailed certificates of appreciation to them.

RDA received grants from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois for four planters ($2,272), Heart of Rockford Historic Preservation Award Sponsorship ($500) and for Architecture and History of the River District book ($2,500).

RDA received a grant from City of Rockford (East and West TIF districts/$30,000) in exchange for services provided throughout the year.

RDA worked with Centre Events and Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau to create a dining and parking brochure that will be mailed to individuals who purchase tickets to events at the MetroCentre, Coronado Theatre, and Davis Park (15,000 printed). Ten River District member establishments participated.

RDA sent a letter to City of Rockford Community Development Department with recommendations for changes to the Facade Rebate Program.

From the July 26-Aug. 1, 2006, issue

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