How Rockford became the country’s top real estate market

A decade ago, Rockford was the underwater mortgage capital of the world. Today, we’re the top real estate market in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal and We’re attracting residents from Chicago, the suburbs and beyond. But why consider moving here?

Property values are up 52%, and homes come with free college degrees. In 2020, we launched the Rockford Promise Northern Illinois University Scholarship Program. All students who live in Rockford, attend Rockford Public Schools and earn a 3.0 GPA can attend NIU tuition-free. Nearly 300 Rockford students are currently in this program, and approximately 70% are first-generation college students and 60% students of color.

We’re creating pathways into the workforce, including the construction trades, with our concrete workforce development program and vertical trades training. To create these programs, we worked with minority contractors to hire at-risk youth and to teach technical skills to the participants.

Businesses are flocking to Rockford. Metra is on track to once again provide passenger rail service between Chicago and Rockford in 2027, restoring service that was discontinued more than 40 years ago. Hard Rock Casino will open this summer. And, in neighboring Belvidere, Stellantis is investing $5 billion into reopening and expanding. Other businesses are also growing, including PCI Pharma Services, Collins Aerospace and AAR Corp. Due to these expansions, we’re forecasting at least 3,400 new jobs for our region in the coming years.

SEND LETTERS TO: To be considered for publication, letters must include your full name, your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be a maximum of approximately 375 words.

New jobs mean we need more housing. To spur residential construction, we created a property-tax rebate program. Not only are we rebating taxes for three years for new home construction, we’re also waiving all new construction building permit fees and water connection fees. On a $200,000 home, that’s a savings of $26,000.

Our community is moving in the right direction, as is our crime. We’ve seen a 34% reduction in violent crime and a 29% reduction in property crime since 2017. Our residents’ perception of crime has also improved. A recent study showed that from 2018 to 2023, the number of residents who felt safe increased 70%.

Rockford is making a comeback. Join us! Learn more at

Mayor Tom McNamara, Rockford

Landmark status comes with a price

Regarding possible landmark status for St. Adalbert Church, or any other structure in a similar situation, if a government body, in this case the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, has the authority to impose restrictions on the use of private property, it should come with a financial cost to that government body and the people advocating for landmark status.

At the very least, I would recommend five years of maintenance costs. In the case of St. Adalbert, the archdiocese made a perfectly reasonable decision: close one church that could not be financially sustained to save and strengthen a nearby similar church for the benefit of the entire community.

Stephen Carmody, Beverly

New budgets are positive step for Chicago schools

I applaud reporters Nader Issa and Sarah Karp for highlighting the recent changes in the Chicago Public Schools budgeting formula, to allocate resources based on students’ needs rather than enrollment numbers. This shift is long overdue and recognizes the unique challenges faced by different schools.

However, there are several aspects of this new formula that deserve more attention. While the new baseline model promises a more equitable distribution of resources, it still leaves many high-poverty schools struggling. Some schools in low-income areas continue to lose staff despite their persistent needs. This issue is particularly pressing in neighborhoods like Englewood, where the community relies heavily on schools for essential support services.

Additionally, the emphasis on providing a baseline number of positions for very small schools is commendable, but it raises questions about sustainability and effectiveness. Douglass High School in Austin, for example, has just 35 students but is getting 10 additional staff positions. How will this impact the overall quality of education and resource distribution across the district?

The article also points out that while some schools are gaining positions, others are losing them, particularly those that historically offered rich elective programs. This trend is troubling as it could potentially widen the gap between schools that can afford to supplement their budgets through private fundraising and those that cannot.

Moreover, the new budgeting model introduces “discretionary funds” for principals to address their school’s specific needs. This flexibility is a positive step, but it requires careful oversight to ensure that funds are used effectively and equitably.

Lastly, the looming $400 million deficit and the reliance on cuts to central office spending raise concerns about the long-term viability of these reforms. It is crucial that CPS, along with city and state officials, find sustainable funding solutions.

While the new CPS budgeting formula is a step in the right direction, it must be implemented with a focus on ensuring that all schools, particularly those in high-poverty areas, receive support to provide quality education. Ongoing evaluation and adjustment will be key to making sure no school is left behind.

Elan Hunt, Englewood

Collaborative care in medicine works

As a family medicine and addiction medicine physician in Illinois, I was excited to see the letter to the editor May 21 by Dr. Emma Daisy on the Collaborative Care Model. I have been practicing in this model since February 2019, and I can say from experience, it works. But far too few providers and patients have access to this innovative, team-based approach

Dr. Daisy’s letter spoke to me both as a physician and as a mom and family member of loved ones with experience navigating the siloed U.S. health care system. This is a letter not only for medical professionals but for anyone who has felt frustrated that access to behavioral health services can feel out of reach. One organization that is truly moving the needle to break down the silos in health care and help us envision new ways of delivering whole-person care is the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association.

Jennifer Thomas, M.D., Channahon

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *