Morrissey unveils priorities for Rockford plan

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Larry Morrissey, independent mayoral candidate, outlined specific actions and priorities for job creation, economic development, tourism and technology March 10.

Job creation/economic development

Morrissey’s strategy for creating jobs builds upon Rockford’s local strengths.

“We will focus first on tackling the local issues,” Morrissey said. “ Most of the dollars brought into local communities come from local property taxes and sales taxes. While funds from the state and federal government are important… they are oftentimes inconsistent and sporadic, especially right now when the state’s finances are in big trouble. Unfortunately, the current administration’s hypnotic focus on Springfield and Washington has left it inattentive on the most pressing local leadership issues.”

Morrissey would meet the needs of local existing businesses by supporting and investing in the many local capitalists and small businesses here. Morrissey said key areas to support include the following:

Establish clear responsibilities and accountabilities for job creation. Eliminate confusion as to the responsibilities and relationship between Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the City of Rockford.

Education/workforce development;

Tax incentives for existing businesses;

Local investment networks such as the now-forming Stateline Angels;

Local research activities such as the EIGERlab;

Infrastructure improvements (e.g., roads, rail, passenger rail service to airport, fiber optic network development);

Creating and promoting development opportunities with incentives for small, locally-owned businesses;

Developing local minority certification process.

Technology strategy

While technology and automation have brought efficiencies that have ended many low-skilled jobs, many higher skill jobs have been created. Ironically, many technologies created by large business have also enabled smaller businesses to compete. Broadband Internet access has enabled small businesses to compete with much larger businesses by making logistics and just-in-time ordering and fulfillment available to smaller companies.

“The problem with the current administration’s efforts in developing a broadband fiber optic ring is in both the concept and execution,” said Morrissey. “The administration’s primary focus has been to network large institutions. While it is critical to have both the medical community and large industry involved in a fiber-optic solution, the administration’s concept has largely ignored small business. The pricing and planning for the administration’s fiber optic concept removes it from the grasp of most small businesses.”

The current administration’s first efforts to build this network have failed. The administration supported and executed a no-bid contract with vendors, which has been critized by experts as both costly and one-sided. The network has not been fully built and will not get done successfully with such problems in its execution.

“When the administration is perceived as playing favorites and having an unfair playing field for developers and businesses, we discourage many other developers and businesses from doing business in Rockford. That is extremely damaging to this community,” Morrissey said.

Tourism strategy

Tourism must be expanded in intelligent ways to create assets and enjoyment that enhance the quality of life for Rockford residents as well as people from out of town. Key components of Morrisey’s tourism strategy are:

Hiring a director of Tourism, Culture and Special Events to provide direction, planning and accountability for our tourism economic development efforts.

Discontinuing discussions about a $100 million convention center; and

Constructing a connected riverfront pathway that will connect assets on both sides of the river, such as museums, the Coronado Theatre, MetroCentre, library, etc. The path would also promote development of undeveloped properties owned by the city.

For more information on the Morrissey campaign, including volunteer opportunities, call (815) 968-MORC (6672).

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