Rockford getting 'Miracle Mile' gateway to city

In just a short time, a portion of East State Street in Rockford could look a long way off from what it looks like now. You might even call it a “miracle.”

Tuesday, Dec. 12, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I), along with Ald. Frank Beach (R-10) and many community business leaders, announced a major economic advancement for the stretch of East State Street spanning the distance just east of Alpine Road to Fairview Boulevard and south to Morsay Drive.

The geographic region is now called a TIF district, but to those closest to the project, it is affectionately dubbed “The Miracle Mile.”

More than 18 months ago, a small group of business leaders with interests near the State Street and Alpine Road intersection formed a grassroots effort, petitioning municipal leaders to help formulate the specialized tax district. Their intent was to revitalize and clean up the gateway to Rockford taken by so many people heading into the heart of the city.

“First impressions are everything in terms of business growth and development,” said Pete Roche, executive vice president of Riverside Community Bank and one of the group’s volunteer leaders. “We need to communicate a progressive, attractive, professional business image for every company and individual driving into our city.”

So the grassroots business leaders teamed with the mayor’s office and city aldermen to petition for the designation of a TIF district to include businesses along East State Street from just east of Alpine Road to Fairview Boulevard and south to Morsay Drive. The city formally approved the move Sept. 11, 2006.

Morrissey said: “We are committed to ensuring that quality companies in our community are given every opportunity to succeed in today’s marketplace. We will continue to aggressively pursue any redevelopment tools at our disposal to assist with job retention and creation.”

The idea is that businesses within the TIF district will now have a new economic tool to use to improve their properties, and the entire community will benefit. If commercial property values in the TIF district go up and extra taxes are generated, the extra revenue could be put back into the area to be used for development, facade improvements, street improvements, beautification efforts and more, creating a more aesthetically pleasing area for those who live, work and do business in the area. That, in turn, would help generate more business patrons, which, in turn, would generate more sales tax revenue for the city.

The end goal is to develop the corridor into an attractive and appealing area for companies to relocate to and for residents to patronize the businesses located there, creating an incentive to invest in the area and communicating a vibrant professional business climate for those on their journey to downtown Rockford.

Roche added: “We now want to increase public awareness and generate a small budget for marketing efforts. We can use your help to improve the Miracle Mile leading into the heart of our city.”

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From the Dec. 27, 2006-Jan. 2, 2007, issue

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