New River District president sees downtown opportunities

The River District Association’s new president, Rebecca Kopf, has her eyes set on downtown Rockford’s future, and “it’s so bright, you have to wear shades,” she said.

“We honestly have the best of the best in the River District,” Kopf said as she officially took on her new role at the annual River District Association meeting recently. “We have the best restaurants, nightclubs, museums and entertainment in the entire community right here in the River District.”

Kopf, president of local marketing/public relations firm PR Etc., entered her two-year term as the new River District chief with as much energy as she applies to most of her other activities. And while she doesn’t live or have an office in downtown Rockford, if you haven’t seen her somewhere in the River District, you just haven’t been looking. She spends most of her time in the downtown area, eating at one of its restaurants, attending events or promoting it overall through various clients based there or in her previous role as chairman of the River District Association’s marketing committee.

Kopf said she would like to focus her efforts on working more closely with the City of Rockford, the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rockford Regional Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Area Economic Development Council and Winnebago County to help ensure appropriate marketing of, and development incentives for, the River District area.

“The River District area is the gem in our community,” she said. “Every community only gets one downtown—and ours comes complete with a river running through it—now is the time to enhance what we already have here.”

Kopf also would like to see residential living further grow in downtown. “We have the most unique living spaces available throughout all of the region–from really cool lofts that overlook the Rock River to high-rise condos. The River District is the only place in our whole county that offers these remarkable attributes,” she said.

“I’m not going to say ‘something has to be done’ here because so much has already been done,” Kopf said. “The goal is now to grow and further enhance our uniqueness.”

Kopf’s also not afraid to ask for what she wants. “No one that has ever met me would ever describe me as bashful. The No. 1 reason people don’t become involved in an organization or activity is because they are not asked, and I’m not afraid to ask—whether that’s calling upon city government, members or other businesses. I’ll be out there asking.”

She has high hopes for the administration’s focus on the River District with Mayor Larry Morrissey at its helm. Morrissey, a former River District president himself, ran his candidacy in 2005 with an emphasis on developing a riverwalk, has a “unique and dedicated commitment to Rockford’s downtown,” Kopf said. “But it’s up to all of us in the community to make sure this dream of an ongoing and even more vibrant downtown a reality.”

From the Feb. 22-28, 2006, issue

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