Our View: Talk about winning! Tourism scores big

8/9/2017
The Editorial Board, RRStar

People want to come to Rockford. For those of us who think the arrow has been pointing up for the community, that’s not a surprise. Amazing things are happening in Rockford and there are plenty of numbers to support that opinion. — Tourism revenue in Rockford and Winnebago County reached an “all-time high” in 2016 with visitors spending $353 million. — Those visitors generated $6.2 million in local sales tax. — Tourism spending in Winnebago County grew 39 percent since 2009, which is faster than all other large counties in the state except Cook County. — Hotel occupancy in 2017 is up 26.2 percent over last year to an average occupancy rate of 74.4 percent in Winnebago County. In June, hotel occupancy for the month reached 81.1 percent — the highest monthly average occupancy rate on record. Rockford has been investing in itself and that investment is paying off. The investment is visible with the Reclaiming First initiative, which led to upgraded facilities to retain and attract more of the sports tournaments that bring millions of dollars into the community each year. The Reclaiming First project, which includes The UW Health Sports Factory downtown and improvements at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, was made possible because of the Rockford Park District and the leadership of former Executive Director Tim Dimke. The Park District has helped spur tourism, but so has the Rockford Convention & Visitors Bureau. John Groh, president and CEO of the Visitors Bureau, and his staff have done tremendous work promoting the city and events such as Rockford City Market and Stroll on State. And don’t forget the thousands of volunteers who invest sweat equity into facilities and events. Sharefest volunteers, for example, have spruced up downtown for Stroll on State and this year renovated Levings Lake Park. And we expect things to get even better. The Sports Factory has the potential to draw more visitors this year and the years to come. The expansion at Sportscore Two will make it more attractive to tournament organizers. The aforementioned Levings Lake Park project makes it a desirable destination for residents and tourists. Let’s keep the momentum going and celebrate good news like this.


For More Information:
http://www.rrstar.com/opinion/20170809/our-view-talk-about-winning-tourism-scores-big

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The Rock River Development Partnership (RRDP) was established in 2009 as a 501c3 organization. The RRDP brings businesses and people together to create place. We are entrepreneurial and experiential market makers. Our strategies are to create connections between local entrepreneurs and customers to drive economic development to Rockford’s urban core and historic commercial districts, and to foster vibrancy through the activation of storefronts, placemaking and tourism.

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