Photos by TOM SCOTT It is easy to recapture the magic of Christmases past when there is a perfect setting for it. Downtown Rockford—with its signature Currier and Ives beauty, friendly atmosphere and twinkling lights and red ribbons—is ready for another holiday season. There are plenty of activities planned for a kinder, more personal way to celebrate this special time of year. “Rockford is definitely the perfect place for those looking for an old-fashioned holiday atmosphere,” said Jeannie Gregory, executive director of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. “The merchants do their part by fashioning beautiful window displays and decorating their shops, and the City puts up the holiday banners and spends hours wrapping the trees in strings of lights. It makes it easy to showcase such a beautiful setting with holiday events.” The season kicks off with the annual Lighting Ceremony, which will take place at Peppler Park on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. The Rockford High School brass ensemble and the Rockford choirs will be performing holiday music for those anxious to start the holiday season. Each year during the lighting ceremony, the city is covered in darkness and after a countdown from 10 the power is turned on to thousands of lights around the downtown area, including the Rockford Dam overlook. Michigan House Rep. Peter MacGregor will be giving a message of peace to honor the start of the special holiday season. The Heart of Rockford Business Association Open Houses will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 16-17, from 5 p.m. until 8 or 9 p.m., depending on the store. There are discounts, samples, goodies and giveaways, and each participating merchant has their own holiday specials planned. To add to the atmosphere, the sidewalks will be lined with luminaries. Also on Nov. 16, the Rockford Community Children’s Choir will be performing at 5 p.m. and the Rockford Community Chorus will follow at 6 p.m. Both will be at the Rockford Rotary Pavilion. The Gingerbread Contest is scheduled from December 2 through 18. There are different divisions, with the contest featuring gingerbread houses—and gingerbread people for the younger set. The entries will be showcased in the downtown stores, and will add another decorative dimension to the holiday tidings. The entries will be […]
Rockford Chamber of Commerce
by BETH ALTENA Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC) Executive Director Jeanne Gregory allowed her organization to serve as the example for a class on building a strategic business plan held Tuesday, Nov. 1 in the Rockford Public Schools administrative offices. The class was led by Lynda Nance of Nance Business Solutions. “Whatever is wrong with your business, it’s your fault,” Nance stated, advice she often uses when consulting with business owners on how to improve their operations. She said she softens such blunt statements with the use of humor as she helps managers build a plan for improvement and success. The evening did include humor, but also serious discussion on developing a strategy any business owner or manager can use to promote success in their company. Step one, Nance explained, is a clear vision of a company’s purpose by creating a vision or mission statement. In the example of RCC, both a mission statement and vision have been created. RCC made an appropriate subject for study in the wake of the organization’s own strategic study. For RCC, the process was an intense, six-month job that was completed on November 1. The plan will lead the organization through the next three years and requires revisitation every 18 months. Members of the class took a short-cut version of the process during two hours of instruction, but were also advised that any strategic plan does need periodic review and adjustments as the company evolves. Step two, after developing a mission statement, is creating a SWOT evaluation: identifying Strengths and Weaknesses and Opportunities and Threats. Nance advised it is vital to include members of all levels of an organization, as well as customers and even vendors, to take part. “Who knows your weaknesses better than your customers?” she noted. She also stressed the importance of involving those at every level of the company, rather than from a stratified distance of management only. “If you just go to employees and tell them, ‘This is what we’re doing,’ they won’t be on board.” Third, develop “baseline metrics,” a measurable footprint of where your business is today. In the example of RCC, that could be the number of members. For others it could be a measure of the amount of business taking […]
The Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC) is proud to present the November installment of its popular Business After Hours event. The event is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 at VanEck Law, PC, 6739 Courtland Drive, Suite 102, Rockford. Todd Van Eck and his staff will be sharing their beautiful office facility for this networking event. The evening is a relaxed, open event that allows participants to freely communicate with other key people in the business community. VanEck invites networkers to walk around the facilities that the law office now calls home. VanEck Law is a results-based law firm focused on obtaining, maintaining and protecting its clients’ best interests. Driven by obtaining results for its clients, VanEck Law works with business, investment, and real estate companies including the areas of operations and management, taxation, formation, solvency, financing and litigation. Participants should be geared up to meet amazing business leaders. RCC and Van Eck Law are looking forward to seeing everyone on November 7. There is no charge to attend Business After Hours. However, in order for VanEck to properly plan for this event, it is requested that you RSVP by November 4 at the Chamber office. Please call (616) 866-2000 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than 50 children showed their incredible talent for The Rockford Squire newspaper’s coloring contest for Harvest Fest. The judges had a difficult time selecting the winners, because everyone did such a great job. However, after much discussion, the following claimed the prizes for the contest: • ages 3-5: first place, Liliana Dunbar, 5; second place, Caitlin Brechting, 3 • ages 6-8: first place, Hayley Nowak, 8; second place, Isabelle Rogers, 7 • ages 9-12: first place, Elise Jendritz, 10; second place, Drew Modzeleski, 10. A special thanks goes to Aunt Candy’s Toy Company, D&W Fresh Market, and Polly’s Passions for donating prizes for the winners.
The Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC) invites you to harvest some family fun. The second installment of Harvest Fest, Heritage Weekend, will feature hayrides, scarecrow-making, children’s activities, a craft and food fair, chili cook-off, car show, kids’ tractor pull, and many other fall activities. Special events this weekend will tickle your appetite, delight your eyes, and help you celebrate a beautiful autumn. Saturday features Rockford’s 26th Annual Harvest Fest Chili Cook-Off and it is a sure-fired winner. The 5th Annual Car Show always is a crowd-pleaser and features incredible cars dating from Model T’s to street rods to elegant classics. The show always gets visiting families and friends to share histories with each other, noting cars they grew up with or seeing their dream car. Ask our firefighter friends who are judging this contest what is their favorite “ride.” The Kids’ Tractor Pull draws plenty of excitement for all ages. The Rockford Squire coloring contest winners will be announced prior to the tractor pull. The weekend features crafters, food such as steak sandwiches, steamed corn on the cob and apple dumplings. Want a captured memory? Dan DeWard of Studio D2D will be running his photo booth Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Izaak Walton League will be there to share information with nature identification on the White Pine Trail, and the YMCA is featuring children’s activities. D&W Plaza is the place to be to see our local Rockford Police/D.A.R.E. car, Rockford fire engines, and Rockford Ambulance will be promoting bike safety. Enjoy family fun by participating in kids’ games and pumpkin painting. For exact times, see this week’s Squire pages 10 and 11, and Harvest Fest brochures are located at various businesses around the Rockford area. Please visit the RCC website at www.rockfordmichamber.com for more information on Harvest Fest and entry forms.