On Monday, December 3rd, the Rockford Chamber of Commerce held their Annual State of the Community Luncheon at the Rockford High School. With over 60 attendees, this is a favorite event for the Chamber members to attend.
Speaking at this event was State Senator Peter MacGregor, State Representative Chris Afendoulis, State Representative Rob VerHeulen, City Manager Thad Beard, Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools Dr. Michael Shibler, and Chamber President Kim Neveau.
Starting off was Rob VerHeulen who is nearing the end of his term. He thanked the community and went over some highlights of his term including 6560 bills that were introduced, 660 role call votes, and 357 bills passed by the house, senate and signed by the governor. He also spoke about the ever-improving budget for the State of Michigan and the unemployment rates. In November 2018 the unemployment rate in Michigan was 3.8%. This is the lowest it has been since October 2000.
State Senator Peter MacGregor spoke next. He started by thanking Afendoulis and VerHeulen for being great partners. Though he is excited to work with the new representatives, he says it will be difficult to replace the friendships he has formed with Afendoulis and VerHeulen. He went on to speak about lame duck and the three priorities; Auto No-Fault, Paid Sick Leave, and Minimum Wage. With auto no-fault they are continuously searching for a balance between great benefits and costs. With paid sick leave and minimum wage they strive to make the legislature better for employers and more business friendly.
Next to speak, Chris Afendoulis again thanked the Rockford Community and said it has been a pleasure to work with MacGregor and VerHeulen. He also noted that the new representatives Lynn Afendoulis and Mark Huizenga, will be great representation. He then spoke on the water issues. PFAS is a national issue and will continue to be addressed. Included in water cleanup is trash. With Michigan having one of the lowest tipping fees in the country, this needs to be reviewed and managed.
Up next was City Manager, Thad Beard. He started by stating “I love that all the businesses are engaged and actively involved”. This is apparent by the number of business owners attending the luncheon to discuss the community. These are times of change including the new City Council members, New Mayor of Rockford, street improvements, investments in our community, and the expansion of the Krause Memorial Library! These are all exciting things that are happening in our great town!
Dr. Michael Shibler put an emphasis on the strong relationship that has been built between the City, the schools, and the business community in the Rockford Area. It’s simply not the same in other towns; we have a strong communication between all of these branches of the community and it is what makes Rockford special. What also makes Rockford so special are its champions; Rockford has had 63 athletic championships since 1989! Shibler went on to discuss the importance of safety in schools and the development of programs to help students with their futures.
Lastly, Chamber President, Kim Neveau, spoke about the Chamber successes in the last year including 333 chamber members- 57 of them new members! We have had great attendance at events, and are continuously looking for ways to grow. She also emphasized the great interaction we have between the schools, City and Chamber that make our community stronger than ever.
It was a very successful luncheon as seen by the great attendance and the interactive audience. The Chamber can’t wait to continue this informative event for many years to come.