Transform Rockford hosts more meetings to talk about more things this week, something the group has been doing since Nov. 2013. Since that first gathering, we’ve had plenty of visions and processes and little results.
Ideas like Transform are great so long as they ever get to the point. Earlier this year, the organization announced that it had fine-tuned its goals – narrowing the hurdles Rockford must overcome on its way to being a “top-25 city” by 2025 – to just 14 “spokes.”
And now the group goes back for more meetings to further discuss these 14 spokes which have been identified over the past two-plus years. Two “Community Idea Exchange” sessions are planned: one tonight that will cover “Economy & Jobs, Funding & Alignment, Physical Infrastructure, Planning;” and the other on Thursday set to tackle “Unity, Pride, Culture, Family & Neighborhoods, Arts & Recreation.”
You can look at all of these things and sit around and discuss them for months and years, which is what’s happened in the “what” phase of Transform. Now it’s the “how” phase that we’re entering, apparently; the scene looks the same.
In the meantime, Rockford is still lacking in one very important category that will resolve all of its woes: jobs. Jobs are the problem. Give people jobs that pay well so they don’t have to work three different ones; so they can afford good housing; so they can be home with their families; so the tax base grows and the list of abandoned properties shrinks; so Rockford can drag itself out of the decades-long funk.
One spoke. Not 14. Not 28. Not 83. One. The people of Transform Rockford work for and run some of the largest legacy companies in the area; if they want to reach their goal, they could start tomorrow by committing to hiring people in this community who need the most help.
Stop the genuflecting to jargon that creates little action; start hiring people and paying them decent wages. The lack of good jobs is the “what” and creating those jobs is “how” you transform Rockford, and maybe have a chance of reaching that top-25 mark in only nine years.