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of the rockford business community

December 2019 | Volume 32 | No. 12



Positive Momentum for the Community “Be engaged or get engaged if you’re not. Sign up for the community camera network and bring ideas forward. Don’t just point out a problem. Reach out to us. We want your feedback so we can improve our city.” TOM MCNAMARA, ROCKFORD MAYOR

Above) Mayor Tom McNamara addresses regional business leaders on City priorities for Rockford and sharing a number of positive factors happening in the Rockford area.

Plenty has changed since Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara took office two years ago, but not his priorities for the City. Economic development, neighborhoods and public safety were highlights of his message to a packed business crowd at the Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s annual Mayor’s Business Address, November 21, at Giovanni’s Restaurant & Convention Center. “That was a very fact laden speech,” said Einar Forsman, chamber president and CEO. “This is a gentleman who is very concerned about our community and working hard for it. He’s done a good job with the aldermen to make sure they are all working together as a team. That’s what we see from the mayor – the ability to address things frankly with sincerity to it.”

Crime numbers continue to improve. According to McNamara, over the past year violent crime is down 18 percent and property crime is down 13 percent. “When you go out to as many neighborhood meetings like I do, the number one concern from residents and business owners is crime,” he said. “When you look at when I took office in 2017 to what it is today, it’s vastly different. We’ve seen a 31 percent decrease in violent crimes in two years. We have a number of initiatives, from increasing the number of officers to investing $4 million in technology and also focusing on domestic violence, which I really believe is one of the core components of the violent crime in our city.” In September, the Rockford Police Department launched Continued on page 3

40 of the shiniest stars! The Rockford area hosts a constellation of some of the brightest spots in our community


Join the Chamber on Social Media

The Voice is online at

It was a starry night at the Tebala Events Center when the Rockford Chamber introduced its 2019 class of 40 Leaders Under Forty. The audience of 400 supporters were basked in the bright light of this incredible constellation of stars. From business, to not-for-profit, to government and to volunteers, the Rockford Region showed why it is blessed with so many great leaders that are filling up pipelines in our community! “We had an amazing set of nominations this year,” said Einar Forsman, President and CEO, “Our judges had a difficult job and did an

absolutely amazing job of identifying the best and brightest honorees.” “What was particularly noteworthy this time around was how many of the nominees were very familiar with each other, which was very rewarding to know that our leaders are flocking together!” To see who the honorees are for 2019, please go to page 10.” v Look in the mail for the One Publication which contains the in-depth bios of the 40. Visit www.rockfordchamber/ for photos from the One Event.

VOLUNTEERS WORK TO “SAVE SINNISSIPPI GOLF COURSE” At least 50 community volunteers met on Nov. 14 to begin working on plans to “Save Sinnissippi Golf Course” and ensure its sustainability. Project chairs outlined the process that will need to be followed to provide the Rockford Park District with a roadmap for keeping the golf course open and sustainable for 3 to 5 years. Five committees were formed: Golf advisory/special events/alternative uses, visual enhancements for the course, fundraising and sales, public relations/media relations/ engagement of volunteers, and marketing/branding/website. Volunteers have one year to produce a sustainable, long-term strategy. Rounds of golf being played at all of the district’s courses over the years have decreased, with Sinnissippi Golf Course being affected the most.




For more information, see page 23 SPONSORED BY

PROGRAM TEACHES JOBS SKILLS RELEVANT TO ROCKFORD MARKET Studies show that foundational skills are lacking in the workforce, therefore, anyone possessing them will have a competitive advantage in securing and maintaining employment. Rockford Housing Authority invites those who are unemployed and underemployed to participate in Lifeforce Development Institute (LDI), a 12-week, hands-on program teaching on-the-job/ career readiness skills to meet this community’s workforce goals. Participants earn an LDI Certificate of Workforce Readiness, get a 90day follow up with LDI staff and a professional development mentor. Applications can be found at For more information, contact Marcus Hill, 815-489-8550; Eunice Green, 815-489-8661, or Carandus Brown, 815-489-8551.


December 2019



EINAR FORSMAN Rockford Chamber President

To have our community

Rockford Chamber on a mission to inspire, grow and develop leaders

With the recent reception honoring the 2019 40 Leaders Under Forty, it caused me to reflect on the all-encompassing effort the Chamber has made over the years to both honor and respect great leaders, but also to develop and host programs that continue to build leaders and pay it forward. To have our community continue to advance, we have to have a steady pipeline of new leaders paving the way. Our awards programs include the prestigious Citizen of the Year, Women in Business Awards, and Celebration of Manufacturing Awards. Our honors programs include the 20 People You Should Know (PYSK), 40 Leaders Under Forty, and the Confluence Awards – celebrating partnerships and collaborations. All of these programs shout out to great leaders and pulls them together to achieve great

things for the future. For the 2019 40 Leaders this year, it was amazing to see that many honorees were already deep in their friendships and community engagement with others being honored. That tells me at our mission is working! According to Jim Clifton, author of The Coming Jobs War, “Every city has strong, caring leaders working on numerous committees and initiatives to fuel their local economic growth,” says Clifton. “The feat these leaders have to pull off is doubling their entrepreneurial energy by aligning all their local forces.” That’s where chambers come in. Issues related to finding leaders and demonstrating leadership face chamber leaders constantly. Time poverty is an issue, but it always has been. Abdication of corporate social responsibility is still an ugly trend in some places. Risk tolerance, distraction, family

responsibilities, management transience and volunteer fatigue all affect the ability of a chamber to lead. The struggle for willing and able volunteer leadership is likely to intensify over the next 10 years, even as the need grows. This will make catalytic chamber professional leadership all the more important. How does a chamber and its leadership become catalytic? It starts when those involved begin to define their vision in terms of what the organization will be, rather than what it will do. Then, a vision emerges of the chamber as a change agent for the community/economy. The organization sees itself as an instigator of change, rather than a resource to help people cope with change. The propagation, rather than mere acceptance, of change will be new to many chambers and therefore to their would-be leaders.

continue to advance, we have to have a steady pipeline of new leaders paving the way.






Chamber established the Center for Leadership Development and created new programs as well as organized existing, successful programs under a strategic relationship to continue to identify and develop good leaders and leadership traits. From our long standing and popular Leadership Rockford program, to the enormous strength of Ignite Rockford Young Professionals, Lead 360 Executive Women’s Leadership group, and the Rockford Leadership Alliance, these programs are engaging the community at all levels! Catalytic leadership requires that chambers crave and create change, rather than simply helping members and the community cope with change. Our commitment to sustaining strong leadership is resolute.

Task force explores RAEDC, Rockford Chamber unification A unification task force made up of board members of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the Rockford Chamber of Commerce hired a firm from Austin, Texas, to lead the organizations’ unification process. Avalanche Consulting will help the task force obtain stakeholder input, identify best practices, and subsequently develop goals, programs, metrics and governance structure for the unified organization. “We researched and evaluated a number of firms across the country, and Avalanche stood out as the best choice based on their vast experience providing the services we were looking for, their fresh, outside view of our region and their focus on economic development strategies, organizational assessments, workforce development,” said Jeff Hultman, the task force’s chairman. Prior to hiring Avalanche Consulting, the task force studied several models for unification used by similar groups nationwide and chose to pursue a “partnership umbrella” structure. Within that structure, the Rockford Chamber and RAEDC would be unified, but not merged; each maintaining a separate board and a separate, defined focus. They would be housed under a 501(c) (6) organization and aligned in their goals, their work and the metrics they are trying to achieve for the region. They would also share costs for services like HR, operations, marketing and IT.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to consult the RAEDC and Chamber of Commerce on this important and timely process,” said Avalanche Consulting President/CEO Amy Holloway.

Advantages of Umbrella Partnership The task force identified several advantages of the umbrella partnership model including: ■■ Speaking with a stronger, unified voice on behalf of the community. ■■ Making it easy for business leaders and site selectors to know whom to call for assistance. ■■ Aligning goals for stronger benefits to business and the community. ■■ Aligning volunteer hours and activities. ■■ Greater focus and impact on local, state and federal government affairs and advocacy. ■■ Accountability and tracking of results. The task force set a goal for completion of the facilitator-led plan for the first quarter of 2020. “At that time, both boards will have the opportunity to issue a yes/no vote on the unification plan and, if approved, begin implementation,” Hultman continued. “Our task force work helped us conclude that both organizations will be stronger, more accountable, more efficient and more effective working more closely together.”


December 2019 3


Continued from front page

the Community Camera Network, encouraging residents and businesses to register their surveillance cameras so footage can be obtained easily in the event of a crime. “One thing we’ve talked about with the City is sharing surveillance data,” said Forsman. “It’s a small thing but it’s something that can more rapidly help the police when a crime has occurred and can help solve that crime more quickly. I thought for him to ask the business community to get involved at that level, share their data, that’s outstanding.” Things are also looking up when it comes to economic development. The biggest win, without question, was the new Illinois Gambling Act, which included a casino license in Rockford. The addition of the Hard Rock Casino is a game changer for the City. “The casino is a big shot in the arm from a pride standpoint, but to me the most important thing is the addition of 800 union construction jobs; 1,000 permanent jobs at an average wage of $52,000; $7 million guaranteed revenue to the city and another $1-2 million in revenue sharing,” he said. “We negotiated other things in that agreement — workforce development, job training — so that we can make sure that every Rockfordian is part of that success.” McNamara also listed a number of recent successes, including Estwing investing $10 million and adding 30 jobs in a major expansion and Collins Aerospace investing $50 million in campus expansion to build a research and testing lab. Other expansion projects include Specialty Screw and Advanced Machine & Engineering. The Business First program has helped small businesses like Kikifer’s Beauty Supply, 815 Escape and Luxe Barber Studio launch into the marketplace. More than 80 percent of support in this program has gone to females and minority business owners. “The chamber’s small business development center is part of the Business First initiative,” said Forsman. “We need to grow small businesses to grow our city as a whole. We can’t leave people behind who are seeking to form a business but need a jump start.” The City is working behind the scenes to take action on prominent properties that decrease property value. Three recently taken down are Essex on North Main, a former nursing home on North Main and Maid-Rite on Auburn Street. Also on McNamara’s radar is the former Magna building and strip center on East State. “We will no longer allow problem property owners to hold our community and taxpayers hostage while they fail to uphold our standards,” he said. McNamara wants chamber members to get involved. “Be engaged or get engaged if you’re not. Sign up for the community camera network and bring ideas forward. Don’t just point out a problem. Reach out to us. We want your feedback so we can improve our city.”

“It’s great to hear that the mayor and the city council have addressed a number of issues and have traction on them,” said Forsman. “We’re not just hearing about ideas and thoughts and concerns. We’re hearing about specific

action oriented items, including crime, economic development for big and small companies, and just the general natural aspiration of the community right now. The mayor is right. The trajectory is looking good for us.”

The sponsor of the lunch was BMO Harris Bank. Other sponsors include SwedishAmerican A Division of UW Health, Comcast Business, Hinshaw, and Van Matre Encompass Health. v


December 2019


DR. EHREN JARRETT Superintendent RPS 205

We’ve come back stronger than ever All systems go after Fall ransomware attack

If there is a silver lining in this fall’s ransomware attack and tech outage in the Rockford Public Schools, it’s this: We have been able to heal our organization and emerge stronger. In the short term, these were awful circumstances. In the long term, they are an opportunity to make our systems better. By targeting improvement rather than restoration, we can become a role model for other organizations. Looking back, I know one thing for certain. I was blown away by the staff response to the outage. RPS 205 faculty and employees demonstrated the highest commitment to ensuring that student learning and our core business functions continued. The hackers blocked access to technology, but they were no match for our staff’s resolve. The business of learning went on. Whether in classrooms or cubicles, people persevered. Schools remained open. Staff members were paid on time. Every department in our district could be singled out for its professionalism and dedication to teaching and learning. I especially want to thank our teams in information technology/information services, payroll and budget/finance for literally working around the clock for weeks on end. What happened on Thursday, Sept. 5, was like breaking a bone and beginning the process of rehabilitation. If done right -and with the proper amount of dedication and foresight -- you can come out better than before.

Rebuilding from the Ground Up Primary among the improvements in the district are higher tech standards for laptops, a much safer and better-designed network system, and a much stronger and more robust back-up system.

The district did have defenses in place to address cyberthreats. But we couldn’t do enough, fast enough, to fend off this attack. Our antivirus company said they have never seen so many consecutive variants of computer viruses attack at once. As Jason Barthel, our executive director of technology, said on the 205 VIBE: “It was like an automatic weapon. It didn’t matter how good our antivirus was, we just couldn’t keep up.” The district is not alone, as Barthel pointed out. There has been a significant increase in cyberattacks against school districts, government agencies and hospitals. A year and a half ago, the City of Atlanta was the victim of the largest cyberattack against a municipality. For eight days in October, an Alabama hospital system was forced to divert patients. The system eventually paid a ransom to restore its records. We did not pay the ransom. In two months, we took every single device off our network and then, one by one, brought the devices back on. We followed the same process for more than 5,000 computers, 300 servers and 1,200 wireless access points. As our technology director said: We had to rebuild our systems from the ground up. It would be easy to count the negatives, but I focus on the positives. So many employees of RPS 205 went above and beyond to restore the district to a sense of normalcy. I’m proud of that, and I’m even prouder they are meeting the challenge of creating a stronger organization. Dr. Ehren Jarrett is superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. The views expressed are those of Dr. Jarrett’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

Avoiding fraud, scams during 2020 Census The U.S. Census Bureau released some tips to avoid fraud during the 2020 Census. To protect yourself from phishing and other scams, the 2020 Census will never ask for: ■■ Your social security number. ■■ Your bank account or credit card number. ■■ Money or donations. If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity. Check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If you still have questions about their identity, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a Census Bureau representative. Also use that number if you suspect fraud. If it is determined that the visitor does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.


December 2019 5



PhotoEnrichment Adventures

Ralph Velasco in an ornate room in Cappadocia, Turkey. Copyright 2015 Yvonne Roussel.


PhotoEnrichment Adventures By Paul Anthony Arco Ralph Velasco was looking for a change. The lease was up on his Chicago restaurant and he was debating whether to sign an extension. That’s when he decided to write down what he wanted out of a career. “If I continued with the restaurant I would have employees, physical space and inventory to worry about,” he said. “But if I went another route I could work for myself, with no expense of a physical location, and I could work outdoors; something I always wanted to do.” So 11 years ago, Velasco launched a new business, PhotoEnrichment Adventures. Velasco organizes and leads small group (6 to 11 people) cultural tours, with an emphasis on photography, around the world. The trips are open to photographers and non-photographers alike, with any type of camera, or none at all. Velasco has planned visits to destinations such as India, Romania, Cuba, Mexico, Spain and the Baltics, where guests stay

in 3 and 4-star boutique hotels. “I started doing some photography tours around 2005, which was the dawn of digital photography,” said Velasco, who has written books on photography and won awards for his work. “I started with simple two-hour walking tours in California and later in Chicago, and people loved it.”

International Adventures Velasco, who is originally from Park Ridge, a suburb of Chicago, became interested in travel in high school, when he studied in Spain for a summer. “I always dreamed of making a living by travel.” He moved to southern California for 15 years, before coming to Rockford where his mother and sister live. While based here, Velasco spends most of his time on the road. “My laptop is my office.” Most of Velasco’s clients are between the ages of 40 to 70 with some interest in photography or travel. “Most people want to learn something on their travel – yoga, travel writing, or photography,” he said.

Most of his business comes from word of mouth and about 42 percent of his clients are repeat customers. “I must be doing something right,” said Velasco, who also does public speaking at travel shows across the country. Velasco, who scouts potential travel destinations a year in advance, has started a second business, Alla Campagna Experiences, named after his mother (Campagna is her maiden name), which focuses on shorter tours. “Some clients were asking for trips closer to home, with less photography,” he said. “On these shorter tours, we put the camera down. It’s all about the food, wine and immersing in the culture and the people.” The groups stay in private castles, converted villas, wine estates and boutique hotels. “The properties are destinations themselves,” said Velasco, who’s led more than 100 tours between his two businesses. One of Velasco’s favorite tours is an eight-day excursion called A Taste of Northern Portugal. “We start in Porto, one

Above, Ralph Velasco shows an image to a woman at a salt factory, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Copyright 2013 Carol Lloyd of my favorite cities in the world,” he said. “We do boat rides, guided walking tours and a local foodie tour. We take a train to an incredible wine estate overlooking a terraced valley with vineyards and small towns. It’s absolutely stunning scenery.” Velasco said starting his business wasn’t easy, but perseverance paid off. “I have the best job in the world,” he said. “People think I’m on vacation all the time, but it’s a lot of work. I love nothing more than sharing experiences with clients and seeing the world through them.”


Owner: Ralph Velasco 1643 N. Alpine Road, #190


December 2019



DR. ALECIA ARN Life Balance Medical Center

Help for chronic pain, joint degeneration, injuries The use of mesenchymal stem cells in regenerative medicine

The prevalence of chronic pain in the United States is staggering; affecting one in five people. And of the 20 percent who struggle with chronic pain, eight percent have highimpact pain, which means their lives are limited in some very significant ways. This problem will only get worse as our population grows older over the next two decades.  Until recently, the only solutions for chronic pain came in medications or invasive procedures. Finding pain management solutions shouldn’t mask your problem, but treat the underlying cause of your pain for results that will serve you well, long into the future. To do this effectively, it’s better to work with your body rather than against it, which is exactly what regenerative medicine accomplishes. Regenerative medicine takes a different approach by promoting healing from within your body, on a cellular level, to help you achieve long-lasting relief. Here’s a look at how regenerative medicine is revolutionizing the way we approach pain management.

Why the Pain? Before we get into regenerative medicine, let’s take a look at the myriad health issues that Americans struggle with on a daily basis. Of course, pain is part and parcel of the human condition and can arise from anything from a stubbed toe to a broken arm. But the pain that stems from chronic and degenerative conditions is an entirely different beast — and one that has been very difficult to treat. The most common causes of chronic pain include: ■■ Arthritis ■■ Fibromyalgia ■■ Degenerative disc disease ■■ Neuropathy ■■ Injuries that didn’t heal properly

overriding your body’s systems with medications or interventional techniques like invasive surgery. But regenerative medicine takes a more complementary approach by working with your body to repair, regrow or replace damaged cells and tissues. To achieve this, we turn to one of nature’s most powerful tools — mesenchymal stem cells. These remarkable cells are the building blocks from which all other cells are formed, thanks to their multipotent nature. What this means is that mesenchymal cells have the amazing ability to become other cells, and then multiply as that cell. Each of us has stem cells in our bodies, but they aren’t as potent as they were in embryonic development when the cells set to work to build a human life. Through regenerative medicine practices, mesenchymal stem cells are re-harvested from donor cord tissue from the birth of live, fullterm healthy babies that were prescreened and pre-approved for the process. Not only do these tissues contain mesenchymal stem cells, but also other powerful regenerative tools, such as: ■■ Cytokines ■■ Proteins ■■ Growth factors ■■ Scaffolding properties By introducing these regenerative resources into your damaged tissue, they work in concert to provide the ideal healing environment; even calling upon the resources that already exist within your own body to further promote healing and repair.  Because we’re working with natural resources, it may take some time for your damaged tissues to respond — usually 12 weeks. But the wait is well worth it as you regain pain-free movement and your quality of life.

■■ Poor posture Of course, there are many other health issues that can lead to nagging pain, but these represent the primary culprits behind chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Regenerative Medicine Traditionally, pain management techniques have come down to

Alecia Arn is a doctor of chiropractic medicine, owner of Life Balance Medical Center, Roscoe, and co-author of the Amazon #1 bestselling book, “Wake up: The Happy Brain.” The views expressed are those of Dr. Arn’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

 Destination



JOHN GROH Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

A Hallmark Christmas movie right in our hometown For many Stroll on State has become a family tradition

Businesses and labor unions contribute money, manpower and expertise. Volunteers spend days installing decorations and putting up lights, not to mention months getting ready. Seven hours truly did matter on Nov. 30 as tens of thousands of local folks and visitors enjoyed our seventh-annual Stroll on State downtown. Many people returned for the seventh time, having made Stroll a part of their holiday traditions. We’re happy to see it become part of families’ annual plans, and we try each year for Stroll to have events and sights to delight grandpas and grandmas, moms and dads, teens, and the little ones for whom Christmas is magical. Rockford’s downtown was once again transformed into a holiday scene that would be perfect for a Hallmark Christmas movie. Thanks to our devoted volunteers and sponsors, every block was bright with lights and decorations that truly made it a wonderland. It doesn’t happen without tremendous community support. Businesses and labor unions contribute money, manpower and expertise. Volunteers spend days installing decorations and putting up lights, not to mention months getting ready. Governmental units get on board and even non-profit organizations are happy to help. The results are not all measurable. We know that restaurants and retailers – downtown and elsewhere – get a bump in holiday shopping on Stroll day. We love promoting that, especially for our downtown entrepreneurs. We hear, though, that businesses outside the downtown benefit too. Some folks escape the bustle of downtown for a late afternoon or evening dinner at one of our many fine dining establishments. Others make it a huge shopping day, stopping at one of our retailers or malls on their way downtown and finishing up with some unique buys on State or Main Streets. Equally important, when tens of thousands of people come together to celebrate a season that means peace and love, our friends and neighbors in northern Illinois are showing their belief in ourselves and our values, and our optimism for the future. Certainly, downtown and other parts of our city have seen major changes

in the past seven years, with more choices for entertainment, service and merchandise than ever before in our metropolitan area. Stroll on State puts the spotlight on our positive growth.

Many Have Supported Since Beginning Our generous sponsors are led by Illinois Bank & Trust, our primary sponsor since 2015. Happily, we’ve become part of the bank’s holiday tradition. We can’t list all our sponsors, but we are deeply grateful to the other businesses, labor groups, individuals, organizations and governmental units who help us. The myriad of things to see and do run smoothly only because of their generosity and dedication. What’s impressive is that so many of our sponsors and partners have been with us year after year since Stroll began in 2013. We didn’t know what to expect that year and were thrilled when partners invested in our idea and more than 30,000 people joined in the celebration. The number has grown each year since then, through good weather and not-so-good weather conditions. We don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. The sponsoring organizations and businesses




people who have bought into the idea that community gatherings help a city grow. As people see what can be done, seeds are planted that sprout into other community-wide projects and events that identify and uplift our hometown. Thanks to all who helped and enjoyed our seventh-annual Stroll on State. Happy holidays, and we’ll see you next year for No. 8. With your help again, the eighth-annual Stroll will be our best ever. John Groh is president/CEO of Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. The views expressed are Groh’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.


December 2019



Another taboo topic: loneliness Illinois Manufacturing Innovation Voucher Program Investing in the Future of Illinois Manufacturers In a highly competitive market that is fueled by technology advancements, small and mid-sized manufacturers need to act now to remain relevant. The Illinois Manufacturing Innovation Voucher presents a bold opportunity for manufacturers to incorporate technology in their processes or products to sustain their competitive advantages. Using acquired knowledge from industry experts, Voucher projects can help resolve minor technological issues or outline possible solutions for a more complex problem, resulting in innovation and market growth. The Illinois Manufacturing Innovation Voucher will award up to $25,000 in match funding to: ■■ Accelerate Technology Adaption ■■ Identify and Implement Productivity Improvements ■■ Overcome Organizational Growth Barriers Voucher projects must be conducted in Illinois and are for existing Illinois manufacturers with between 5 and 500 employees. Projects are expected to be practical in nature and focus on productivity improvements and/or product development that lead to innovation and measurable gains. For more information go to:


The necessity for forming quality relationships

Researchers have found that loneliness is just as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Lonely people are 50 percent more likely to die prematurely than those with healthy social relationships. Loneliness was found to be such a big problem in the United Kingdom, that the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, appointed a minister of loneliness. Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need, crucial to both wellbeing and survival. More and more people are living alone, with declining marriage rates and fewer children. Loneliness is not the same thing as being alone. Some solitude is good for you. But being alone needs to be a choice in order to be healthy. So why is loneliness deadly? First, it reduces your immunity, which can increase your risk of disease. It also increases inflammation in the body, which can contribute to heart disease and chronic health conditions.

People Who Fuel Your Soul What to do? Quality relationships matter more than quantity. Even though we live in a technologically hyperconnected world, it is a very different kind of connection from interacting with other human beings face to face. If you have been spending a lot of time alone, this is the point at which it would be a good idea to head to your local roastery or join a young professionals group, so that you can fend off this year’s flu bug. This might be the biggest challenge,

but you need to find people that fuel your soul; those with whom you could talk for hours and leave energized instead of depleted. There are undoubtedly people in the area who share at least a couple of your interests and hobbies, whether you are into Game of Thrones, crocheting, collecting vintage vinyls … . Look around for local meetup groups, social media for communities and get socializing! Zakera




Community Health, is a member of IGNITE Rockford.

Connect with others at upcoming IGNITE events IGNITE Smokey Bones Happy Hour, Dec. 3, 4:30 to 6 p.m., at Smokey Bones, 6690 E. State St., Rockford. IGNITE Holiday Party, Dec. 18, 6:00 to 8:00 PM at Aero Ale House. Check for updates on IGNITE’s Facebook page. To find more IGNITE events, check out the following: IGNITE Facebook page (https:// IgniteRockford/) IGNITE Instagram (@ igniterockfordyp) IGNITE website (www.

Chicago Tops List of 2019 Best Winter Holiday Destinations WalletHub compared nearly 70 of the largest U.S. metro areas, grouping them by warm and cold weather. Each destination was analyzed based on 37 key metrics, such as weather forecasts, safety and variety of activities. Chicago ranked: ■■ 4th Lowest Travel Costs & Fewest Hassles ■■ 4th Most Attractions

■■ 1st Most Cold-Weather Activities Best Cold Destinations

Best Warm Destinations

2. Washington, D.C.

2. Dallas, Texas

1. Chicago, Ill.

3. Atlanta, Ga.

4. Philadelphia, Pa. 5. Denver, Colo.

6. Boston, Mass. 7. St. Louis, Mo.

8. Cincinnati, Ohio 9. New York, N.Y.

10. Portland, Ore.

1. Austin, Texas

3. San Diego, Calif. 4. Las Vegas, N.V. 5. Tampa, Fla.

6. Houston, Texas

7. San Antonio, Texas 8. Charleston, S.C. 9. Phoenix, Ariz. 10. Orlando, Fla.


December 2019 9


New Illinois Trust Code takes effect Jan. 1, 2020


A step forward for uniformity of U.S. trust laws

The code is a progressive step forward for uniformity of trust laws in the United States, which can ultimately lead to decreased administration costs, and corresponding access improvements for consumers. Amidst the business of the holiday season, a sea change is approaching for Illinois estate plans, particularly those utilizing trusts. The Illinois Trust Code, passed on July 12, 2019, will become the law of the Land of Lincoln on Jan. 1, 2020. Individuals utilizing a trust as part of their estate plan are well-advised to contact their estate planning attorneys to discuss whether changes are appropriate to their plans considering the new Illinois Trust Code. Many of the significant parts of the Illinois Trust Code are effective immediately on Jan. 1. However, some of the changes to trustee duties and obligations pertain only to trusts experiencing a trustee change after Jan. 1, 2020. In some cases, trustees of trusts becoming irrevocable prior to Jan. 1, 2020 are ‘grandfathered’ under the prior Illinois law. While the clear intent of the Illinois Trust Code is to bring the state of Illinois more in line with uniform, national standards (Illinois is the 34th state to adopt this legislation), the new code does effect significant changes upon trusts that will need to be taken into account by attorneys, corporate fiduciaries, accountants and estate planners themselves. Without endeavoring to cover all of the changes in the new code, the following are a few items to note: ■■ The new code imposes notice and disclosure requirements on trustees, including a requirement for accountings and notices to beneficiaries upon substantive changes in the trust’s status, such as a change from revocability to irrevocability. Of particular note, the code expands the definition of who qualifies as a beneficiary entitled to these notices and deliveries to include those who could, someday, receive a distribution from the trust. While some of these notice and delivery requirements can be waived in the trust instrument itself, not all of them can. Whether they should appropriately be waived is certainly something to discuss with your estate planning counsel. ■■ Of note to corporate trustees, the new code limits the extent to which a creator of a trust can excuse a trustee

from liability. It places a presumption of invalidity on a trustee who has specifically asked for a limitation of liability, unless that trustee can prove the limitation clause is both fair AND that the limitation of liability was clearly communicated and explained to the creator of the trust. ■■ The new code retains the ability of a trust creator to limit the powers available to a trustee, which emphasizes the importance of a trustee’s careful review of the trust instrument prior to accepting the trustee position. ■■ The new code broadens the ability of courts to modify the terms of a trust to better effectuate the creator’s intent or deal with changed circumstances, which will likely lead to a sigh of relief from estate planning attorneys in the region. However, the code removes one significant tool from an estate planning attorney’s belt. Non-Judicial Settlement Agreements can no longer be used for purposes other than the interpretation of a trust, modification of a trust’s administrative terms, or to change the governing law of a trust or related to the resolution of disputes. If a change unrelated to those items is desired, the parties must obtain court approval. The new Illinois Trust Code will likely induce its share of growing pains just like any change in the law. However, the code is a progressive step forward for uniformity of trust laws in the United States, which can ultimately lead to decreased administration costs, and corresponding access improvements for consumers. As the clock turns to 2020, a discussion regarding the new Illinois Trust Code is worth having with your estate planning team. Daniel A. Huntley is an attorney with WilliamsMcCarthy LLP, focusing his practice on transactional matters, including estate planning, real estate, corporate law and agricultural law. He can be reached at 815987-8980 or The views expressed are those of Huntley’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.



December 2019


40 LEADERS UNDER FORTY 2019 Each one a bright spot in the Rockford area.








BROOKE SPENCER Director, Compensation and Benefits, MERCYHEALTH


December 2019









AMBER SANDERS Assistant Vice President, Controller, BLACKHAWK BANK





December 2019







KYLE SHICK, PHARM. D., BCPS Regional Pharmacy Director of Operations, Controller, OSF HEALTHCARE



DR. SUMEET TEWANI Physician Gastroenterologist/Advanced Endoscopist, ROCKFORD GASTROENTEROLOGY ASSOCIATES

KIKA YOUNG Director of Corporate Management, FOREST CITY GEAR





December 2019




LAUREN ZEREY Manager of Strategic Support, SUPPLYCORE INC.











ANDREW SMITH Program Manager, Electric Powertrain & System, COLLINS AEROSPACE


December 2019






economic development RAEDC annual meeting keynote speaker Rebecca Ryan is trained as a futurist and economist, a Futures Lab facilitator, author of books, blogs and articles, client advisor, and founder of Futurist Camp.

RAEDC’s annual meeting: Connecting the dots, finding sustainable solutions, creating a skilled workforce Rebecca Ryan, futurist, addressed business and community leaders about the future of the Rockford region at the Rockford Area Economic Development Council’s (RAEDC) Annual Meeting. Fourteen years ago, Ryan discussed where she saw us in the future. On Nov. 5, she evaluated her predictions, and we have accomplished so much since her last visit. “It’s very forward-looking for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council to explore this question of AIs (artificial intelligence) impact on the region’s employers and economy. Almost all of us are interacting with AIs every day when we say ‘Okay Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’ or when they talk to Alexa.

But most people don’t know that AIs have been taking jobs since the 1990s, and the long-term impact will create an even bigger divide between the haves and have nots. This is an important conversation about businesses’ role in thoughtfully advancing AI,” comments Ryan. There are three observations from Ryan’s presentation to consider as technology, AI and humans interactions increase; ■■ AI is everywhere and getting smarter. ■■ AI’s impact on jobs and the economy is, in part, up to us. ■■ There are differences, but also relationships, between big data, AI,

computational learning and neural networks





Taking a look at businesses’ role in advancing artificial intelligence

economic indicators outlined in the

Nathan Bryant, president & CEO, continued to remind the community that we are looking forward and moving forward. “By continuing to connect the dots, finding sustainable solutions to creating a skilled workforce, and focusing on where we want to be as a community, we will attain our goals of making this THE place people want to work, play and live.” During his presentation, Mike Paterson, chairman of the RAEDC’s


progress made on the three key Rockforward20/20


New/Retained Jobs 7,247 72% to goal of 10,000





economic stakeholders

and most importantly businesses, have to the region,” remarked Paterson; approaching





chairman. The RAEDC will continue to cultivate opportunities for primary job growth that will continue to increase the economic wellbeing of our region and propel us to be a Top 25 community.

New/Renovated Space 5.2 million square feet 65% to goal of 8 million square feet

Woodward reports positive fiscal year 2019 results Aerospace sales anticipated to increase in 2020 Woodward, Inc., reported financial results for its fiscal year 2019 and fourth quarter ending Sept. 30, 2019. Net sales were $2.90 billion for 2019, an increase of 25 percent compared to the prior year. Net earnings were $260 million, or $4.02 per share, compared to $180 million, or $2.82 per share, for the prior year. Aerospace segment net sales for fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 were $506 million, compared to $461 million for fourth quarter a year ago; an increase of 10 percent. Aerospace sales growth for fourth quarter, 2019, was strong across military markets and commercial OEM and benefitted from higher defense spending and increased aircraft content such as narrowbody production ramps.


“These figures clearly demonstrate

Key Economic Indicators

Capital Investment $1.2 billion 127% to goal of $925 million


Industrial segment net sales for fourth quarter, 2019, were $231 million, compared to $258 million for fourth quarter a year ago. The decline was primarily driven by reduced demand for natural gas trucks in China due to the large pre-buy, in previous quarters, of China V compliant trucks ahead of the implementation of China VI emission regulations, as well as the impact on renewables business of the Senvion bankruptcy. During fiscal year 2019, $150 million was returned to stockholders: $40 million in dividends and $110 million in repurchased shares. Total net sales for fiscal 2020 are expected to be between $3.0 and $3.1 billion. Aerospace sales are anticipated to be up approximately six percent compared to the prior year.


December 2019 15





Small Business Enterprise


Services provided by your SBDC

Some people feel that they don’t need a business plan if they

What it can (and can’t) do for your start-up

always needed to help provide direction and support.

Most people know that the SBDC provides services for start-up businesses and assists in growing companies as well. What exactly are those services and how can the SBDC assist you in starting or growing a business? Most SBDC’s provide the basic service of advising clients in business start-ups and in the creation of a business plan. Some people feel that they don’t need a business plan if they are not attempting to secure a commercial loan, but a plan is always needed to help provide direction and support. After the basic services, many of the SBDC’s will provide additional help based on the expertise of the director and consultants working for the program. The Illinois SBDC at the Rockford Chamber can also assist with basic human resources questions, website development, social media and marketing assistance. These services are basic in nature and largely for initial

help when the entrepreneur would not have the ability to secure services from vendors. The SBDC does NOT take the place of companies/vendors in these fields, and often, when the start-up begins to grow, we will refer to a multitude of consultants who can charge for these services. The SBDC does not provide legal or accounting advice. SBDCs advise and do not direct. They do not fill out paperwork, visit banks or do business plans for clients. The SBDCs train on a number of issues. Many clients are looking for grant dollars, and when grants are available, SBDCs can help the client prepare to fill out the necessary paperwork. If the client is looking to secure government contracting, a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) can help the client in doing business with the government. We currently do not have one in the

are not attempting to secure a commercial loan, but a plan is

Rockford area, but can refer to several that are in driving distance from our region. Companies often look to the SBDC’s for advice on whether to be a sole proprietor, LLC, “S” Corp or “C” Corp. We can provide basic information and then let the client speak to an accountant or attorney to help make that decision.

Overcoming Obstacles What are some common obstacles that make it difficult for a person to start a business? We find that credit history and credit scores can make it difficult for a person to get a commercial loan. We are working on relationships with people who provide financial literacy and can provide help to a client who needs to get the finances in order before starting a business. Having money in the bank and collateral also helps people get a loan. Another obstacle occurs when a client has no understanding or expertise in

the field of their interest. (For example, they want to start a restaurant but have no experience in working in or running one). Another obstacle occurs when the client has not looked into market need to see if the product or service will be viable. The SBDC partners with various entities that include, but are not limited to the library, SCORE, the EIGERlab, commercial lenders and others. The aspiring entrepreneur should begin at the library, which can provide assistance with solidifying an idea, and then visit the SBDC, which can refer to other agencies as help is needed. Please visit our website, www., or call the Rockford Chamber, 815-987-8100 or the SBDC directly, 815-316-4301, for more information. Mike Mastroianni is director, Illinois Small Business Development Center.



December 2019



Building the workforce of tomorrow

ANISHA GRIMMETT, Alignment Rockford

High school students cultivate hands-on experience with businesses

Throughout the nation and right here in the Rockford region, job opportunities have been more plentiful in recent years as business boomed and the unemployment rate hit a 50-year low. Yet many of those jobs remain unfilled, primarily due to a shortage of skilled workers. At Alignment Rockford, we are committed to filling the gap by ensuring RPS205 students graduate from high school with marketable skills and real-life, on-the-job experiences. Our model is built around the concept of collective impact: a centralized infrastructure, dedicated staff and volunteers, and structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants. We align community resources in support of public school strategies to raise student achievement, improve the health and happiness of our children, and advance the social and economic well-being of our community. In short, we help young people to succeed, while enabling our business partners to cultivate the workforce of today and tomorrow. Over the past several years, Alignment Rockford has helped to establish Academies inside every Rockford high school. Essentially a school-within-aschool, each academy allows students to experience high school through the lens of a specific career path – business, production, health or public service. Over four years, they build the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed, engage directly with local employers and form long-lasting relationships.

Business Partnerships Without our business partners, the academies would not be possible, as they provide invaluable opportunities for job shadowing, student internships, teacher externships, guest speakers, field trips and other venues for learning outside the classroom. Recently, we expanded on that success by launching the Pathways Sponsorship Program, an exciting new opportunity for businesses to partner with RPS205 high schools and play a key role in developing the workforce of tomorrow. Businesses commit to support Pathways at three different levels: Collaborator ($2,500), Partner ($5,000) or Pathway Sponsor ($10,000). The program is much more than a financial commitment — it’s an unparalleled opportunity for businesses to mentor students, help shape curriculum, visibly demonstrate their commitment to our community and develop their talent pipeline for years to come. Through the Pathways Sponsorship Program, businesses interact with

RPS205 students face-to-face, providing valuable opportunities for work-based learning (WBL), an essential component of a comprehensive education. Through opportunities to engage in deep exploration, WBL prepares students for the world of work. Pathways sponsors agree to a four-year commitment, which provides students with WBL opportunities during their highschool years. Freshman Year: Each sponsor’s commitment begins with our annual Career Exploration/Academy Expo, where freshmen students learn about aligned Academy and Pathways careers and participate in a hands-on activity designed to pique their interest in a specific field. Sophomore Year: Pathways sponsors host groups of students for 90-minute site visits, in which they are given guided tours of their facility and an overview of available careers. Junior Year: Students experience what it would be like to work in a specific career through our job shadowing program. Senior Year: Pathways culminates with a senior project, during which students undertake a project related to a workplace, community need or developing their own product. To help complete their project, Pathways sponsors provide mentors who meet oneon-one with students, providing guidance, resources and community connections. Sponsors also provide internship or volunteer opportunities for seniors to learn about the business, with an emphasis on employability skills, management and career opportunities. Our goal is to cultivate a generation of young people who are eager to live, work, learn, create and play in the Rockford region. Clearly, many of the pillars of our business community understand the importance of this mission. So far, our list of Pathways sponsors reads like a “Who’s Who” of Rockford area employers: Associated Bank, OSF HealthCare, Rockford Park District, Collins Aerospace, Northern Illinois Building Contractors Association and Woodward Inc., among others. However, we aren’t done yet. Please join us as we embark on this important journey together. Not only will you be investing in the future of RPS205 students, but you’ll be ensuring your future pipeline is full of skilled, qualified individuals, eager to build a career and make their mark on the community. Anisha Grimmett is executive director of Alignment Rockford. The views expressed are those of Grimmett’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Logli and Sagar Patel with Reed Sjostrom of Prairie Street Brewing Co. Logli and Patel helped launch the Left-Handed Monkey Wrench IPA, one of several activities for Woodward’s United Way fundraising campaign. For every pint purchased, Woodward donated 50 cents to United Way.

Charitable giving:

It’s about more than raising money for worthy causes Workplace charitable campaigns have been the cornerstone of fundraising for United Way for years. In fact, when the Charitable Federation, United Way of Rock River Valley’s predecessor, was established 100 years ago this December, volunteers fanned out across the city, going into factories to encourage their fellow employees to give to the campaign, many of them speaking in factory workers’ native languages such as Italian, German, Swedish and Lithuanian. Considering that first annual appeal in 1920 raised $92,000, (just over $1 million in today’s dollars) there’s a case to be made that employees want to give to charity, and workplace giving makes it easy for them to do so. Thanks to the simplicity of payroll deduction, workplace campaigns remain the easiest and most effective way to give back to a charitable cause. It’s also a smart approach to ensuring employee satisfaction. In fact, 71 percent of employees say it’s imperative or very important to work where the culture is supportive of giving and volunteering (America’s Charities 2019 Charitable Giving Trends). As employers look to attract and retain good employees, an organization that has a strong track record of supporting charitable causes is a plus. A 2016 Deloitte study on volunteering found that millennials were “twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive” if their company participated in workplace volunteer activities. At Woodward there has always been a spirit of giving and encouraging members to engage and volunteer with causes important to them. Charitable giving and volunteering ties back to Woodward’s Constitution. It’s something the company does to bring everyone together for a common cause. What makes it successful is the support from the top down, but also the fact that there is absolutely no pressure

to participate. Woodward members participate because they want to, and that’s significant to the success of charitable giving in the workplace.

Strengthening Connections Charitable giving in the workplace is about more than raising money for worthy causes. It’s an opportunity to strengthen connections between employees and the community, which can lead to a boost in employee morale, especially when campaigns incorporate a bit of fun into their fundraising. Lip sync battles, costume contests, pie eating/ throwing contests, chili cook-offs, ping pong competitions, penny wars . . . we could go on and on because we’ve seen it all. Companies large and small have found ways to make the most of their charitable giving drives, and it makes a difference. Employees respect employers who allow them to get creative with their fundraising ideas and are likelier to become more loyal employees. Corporate charitable giving must be authentic, however, and a part of a company’s overall culture. Employees, customers and the general public will see right through a company that is only in it for the accolades. United Way and Woodward share a unique perspective on the positive outcomes of workplace charitable giving. United Way relies on the creativity and energy of its workplace partners to run engaging and successful campaigns, and companies like Woodward look to organizations such as United Way to make it easy for everyone to be a partner in charitable giving. Paul Logli is president and CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. Sagar Patel is fuel systems and controls business unit president, Woodward. The views expressed are those of Logli’s and Patel’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.


December 2019



Good things happen when businesses, nonprofits partner Rockford region filled with stories of generosity By Barbara Connors, The VOICE Two Cone Communications surveys revealed the importance to many of being associated with a deserving cause. Eighty-seven percent of consumers said they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand was associated with a good cause. Employees rated opportunities to support causes or issues they care about at 64 percent, nearly as important as wellness programs at 69 percent or tuition reimbursement at 66 percent. Both sides benefit when non-profits and companies partner. Beyond funding, nonprofits get a rich source of potential volunteers and fans in company employees. Companies get a boost in cause marketing and employee recruitment/retention. The Rockford region is loaded with these kinds of partnerships. In the spirit of holiday giving, below are a few recently announced ones.

type programs, Nik’s newly formed foundation granted Nate the first “Nik Wish;” a vacation to California. The foundation has granted more than 155 “Nik Wishes” to young adults, 18 to 24, fighting cancer.

Food for Thanksgiving Blackhawk Bank’s Grateful Giving Thanksgiving food drive kicked off in October, with a goal to provide Thanksgiving Day meals to families in need. Seneca Foods, Janesville, Wis., donated more than 47,000 nonperishable food items and Blackhawk Transport, Beloit, Wis., donated the cost of delivery to Gymnastic Academy of Rockford for pick-up by local food pantries. Each of the partnered pantries received more than 4,000 individual food items: the Salvation Army of Beloit, St. Vincent DePaul, Old Stone Church, Victory Outreach, Rock River Valley Food Pantry, Caritas, Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry, Janesville’s YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter, FISH of McHenry Food Pantry, Richmond/ Spring Grove Food Pantry, Wauconda/ Island Lake Food Pantry, Food for Greater Elgin, and Boys & Girls Club of Elgin.

Granting a Last Wish ComEd, An Exelon Company employees at Rockford headquarters gave Nik’s Wish, The Nikolas Ritschel Foundation, a $10,000 check on Oct. 23. ComEd employee Derek Livingston recommended the charity, as he, like the nonprofit’s namesake, fought cancer as a young adult. Rockford-based Nik’s Wish is named after Nikolas Ritschel, who at 17 was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma. In 2012, just before he passed, Nik’s last wish was for a respite vacation for his friend Nate, an 18-year-old also suffering from a sarcoma whom he met during treatments. As those 18 and older were not eligible for Make-A-Wish-

Renovations for Veterans Home Depot donated more than $24,000 in supplies and volunteers for renovations, yard work and other home projects for three Lifescape Community Services home-delivered meal clients who were U.S. veterans. Lifescape provided breakfast and refreshments to clients and more than

100 Home Depot staff volunteered over two weeks in November on a variety of projects in clients’ homes. Projects included renovating a kitchen, deck work, flooring, yard work and landscaping, installing railings and support bars, painting, and even installing a wheelchair ramp for a veteran client who recently celebrated his 101st birthday.

Donated Educational Materials Rockford Public Library received a $2,000 grant from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists for books and educational materials on medical imaging and radiation therapy.

award recipients: Remedies Renewing Lives, Rock House Kids, Emmanuel Lutheran Church and Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling. Rock House Kids mentioned that its grant will go towards the purchase of dash cams for its passenger vans.

Foot Care for Homeless On Nov. 6, OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center podiatry residents and residency director Dr. Kelly John delivered more than 100 boots and provided foot care to guests of the Rockford Rescue Mission. Many of these people will spend their winter nights in a homeless shelter and keep their shoe gear on all winter long; afraid that someone might steal their only pair of boots. They also suffer from poor foot care.

Free Income Tax Preparation

Inspired to Help Mosaic in Rockford’s Discover the Possibilities event, which highlighted the barriers of its clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, inspired Kayla Speaker, owner of Beautiful Ambitions Salon, to contribute what she did best: haircuts for Mosaic clients every six weeks. Mosaic was finding it difficult to find hair salons that were both welcoming and affordable for clients. Through the free haircuts, each client saves $200 annually – a significant difference on a budget of $60 a month for basic needs like haircuts, toiletries and clothing.

Grant Support for Non-Profits The Heritage Credit Union Richard J. McGrath Endowment Fund named its 2019 Rockford and Machesney Park area

Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois announced the 11th year for its GoodTAXES program in Rockford, DeKalb and Beloit, Wis. It seeks volunteers to provide free income tax preparation services to low-to-moderate income area residents from January to April, 2020. More than 19,000 tax returns have been filed. Volunteer at 815-987-6227, or

Neighborhood Revitalization Mercyhealth donated two residential properties on Lawndale Avenue in Rockford to the Northwest Rockford Redevelopment Corporation. The nonprofit purchases, rehabilitates and sells to owner-occupants. The area of concern is northwest Rockford, bounded on the east by Main Street, on the west by Kilburn Avenue, on the north by Halsted Street and on the south by Custer Avenue. The 120 city square blocks includes Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital-Rockton Avenue campus.

Thank you to our Rockford Chamber Ambassadors!

Members of the Rockford Chamber Ambassadors met with Chamber CEO Einar Forsman to learn more about the Chamber’s current initiatives and discuss the value and importance of the Ambassadors as well as the appreciation for the support of their company/ organization. “Our Ambassadors can be seen everywhere in the community, doing many great contributions out of their own personal interests, or in support of the Chamber,” said Einar Forsman, “They are incredible representatives for the Chamber and we are so grateful for their active engagement.”

December 2019





SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1 Rockford Park District’s presents All Aglow Express at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St. Festively decorated Trolley Car 36 takes passengers on a ride to the “North Pole” to hear “The Polar Express,” 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., on Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15. Tickets at 815-987-8858 or www. nicholas Rockford Park District kicks off its Sounds of the Season Music Series, 6 to 8:15 p.m., on Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22 at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St. Visit all-aglow for information.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3 Music of the Midtown: Sounds of the Season featuring Jodi Beach, piano, guitar/drum and vocal, noon to 1 p.m., Zion Lutheran Church, 925 Fifth Ave., Rockford. Includes 12:30 p.m., soup lunch. Call Katie’s Cup, 815-986-0628 for questions. MainStreet Financial Group and Allianz present a free educational session, Medicare, Social Security & Your Retirement, 6 p.m., at NIU Rockford, 8500 E. State St. RSVP to or 815-9654000.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 WOTM hosts its Holiday Event, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Thinker, 317 W. Jefferson St., Rockford. Womanspace presents Rockford Fresh: A Homemade Skin Care Workshop, noon to 1:30 p.m., at 3333 Maria Linden Dr., Rockford. Features Elizabeth (Chambers) Priller, registered nurse and certified health coach. Visit www. United Way 100 Year Celebration, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., at Memorial Hall, 211 N. Main St., Rockford. Mayor Tom McNamara will give a proclamation at 3 p.m. Visit www. Rockford Christian hosts a Residence Hall Dedication at noon at 7701 Christian Way. RSVP to 779-771-7921 or advancement@

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5 Cosmetology & Spa Academy beauty school hosts a Microneedling Event with Chicago Weight Loss & Wellness Clinic, 5:30 to 7 p.m., at 657 Highgrove Place, Rockford. Dr. Anand Thakker, M.D., will give a free demo. Appetizers, drinks and drawing for a chance to win one “Ultrasculpt Perfect” session (valued at $500). Call 815-307-3622 for questions.


University of Illinois Extension hosts an Apple Tree Pruning class, 3 to 5 p.m., at 1040 N. 2nd St., Rockford. Register by Dec. 4 at or 815-986-4357. Rockford Park District presents the free Jr. NBA Skills Challenge, 6 to 7:30 p.m., at UW Health Sports Factory, 305 S. Madison St. Boys and girls, 8 to 13, compete for an all-expense paid trip to New York City. Registration required by Dec. 2 at 815-962-7469 or UW Health Sports Factory. Visit www.jrnba. com/skillschallenge.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7 Rockford IceHogs hosts Teddy Bear Toss, 6 p.m., at BMO Harris Bank Center, 300 Elm St. Visit XPO Logistics and Home Depot host the sixth-annual Fill The Truck benefit for Circle of Change Veteran Dog Program and area animal shelters and rescue organizations, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Home Depot, 6930 Argus Dr., Rockford. Donations of pet food, pet beds, toys, paper towels, cat litter, collars and leashes welcome. Includes merchandise raffle. Call Don Rolon, 608-346-1122. Wine Tasting to benefit Barbara Olson Center of Hope, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Artale & Co., 6876 Spring Creek Road. No reservations needed. More than 30 wines to sample. Call 815-964-9275 for questions. Rockford Park District’s Sinnissippi Station Model Garden Railroad Exhibit returns to Nicholas Conservatory, 1354 N. 2nd St.; on display through Feb. 2, 2020. Visit www. sinnissippi-station or call 815-9878858. Rockford Park District’s Therapeutic Recreation team hosts the 20th annual Jr. Chariots Holiday Tournament, Dec. 7 and 8 at UW Health Sports Factory, 305 S. Madison St. Visit www. or call 815-987-1601 for details. University of Illinois Extension presents its annual Horticulture for the Holidays workshop, 9 a.m. to noon, at Lockwood Park (cookhouse), 5201 Safford Road, Rockford. Visit extension.illinois. edu/jsw or 815-986-4357 to register. Midway Village Museum presents Victorian Winter Tea, 2 to 4 p.m. Make a graham cracker gingerbread house to take home. Reserve by Dec. 2 at 815-3979112.

Rockford Chamber members appear bolded. Thank you for your support of your fellow Chamber members.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 Historical Holidays, noon to 4 p.m. English Christmas at Graham-Ginestra House, holiday traditions at the six Ethnic Heritage Museum galleries, Victorian Christmas Traditions at Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, and live music with Trinadora and friends. Tickets at www.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10 Music of the Midtown: Sounds of the Season featuring Clea Arbogast, organ and piano, noon to 1 p.m., Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 920 3rd Ave., Rockford. Includes 12:30 p.m., soup lunch. Call Katie’s Cup, 815-986-0628 for questions.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12 Mercyhealth Development Foundation hosts its annual Holiday Toy Drive Breakfast, 7:30 a.m., in Café Merci at Javon Bea Hospital–Riverside, 8201 E. Riverside Blvd., Rockford. Make a gift online at RSVP at or 815-971-4146. Visit www. events/712122385966881.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14 Rockford City Market presents a Holiday Market Pop-Up, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 116 N. Madison St. Visit saturdaypopups. Midway Village Museum presents Christmas in the Trenches, 10 to 11:30 a.m., at 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford. A military re-enactment of the 1914 Christmas truce 105 years ago during World War I. Midway Village also presents a Victorian Holiday Celebration, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reserve at 815-3979112.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15 Ethnic Heritage Museum African American Gallery presents African American Holiday Traditions, 2 p.m., at 1129 S. Main St., Rockford. Kwanzaa celebration and an adaptation of “Black Nativity: A Gospel Song/Play” by Langston Hughes; performed by Rockford Reader’s Theatre and directed by Dorothy Paige-Turner. Visit

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17 Music of the Midtown: Sounds of the Season featuring Joseph Schenk, piano, harpsichord and vocal, noon to 1 p.m., First Lutheran Church, 225 S. Third St., Rockford. Includes 12:30 p.m., soup lunch. Call Katie’s Cup, 815-986-0628 for questions.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18 Marco presents Cyber Security - The biggest gaps in your IT

game plan, a Webex webinar, noon to 12:45 p.m. Register at

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20 University of Illinois Extension presents a workshop on Industrial Hemp, 2 to 4 p.m., at 1040 N. Second St., Rockford. Topics: types of hemp, production systems, licensing, rules and regulations, end products and an update on hemp in Illinois. Register at Winnebago County Extension, 815-986-4357 or jsw.

JANUARY 2020 FRIDAY, JANUARY 3 Rockford Park District hosts its Adult Dodgeball Winter League, 7 to 10 p.m., on Fridays, Jan. 3 to March 6, at UW Health Sports Factory. Register by Dec. 27 at 815-966-8770 or www.leagues.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 17 Thinker Ventures presents Techstars Startup Weekend, Jan. 17 to 19. Technical and nontechnical entrepreneurs participate in the 54-hour event. Friday night pitches, then brainstorming, business plan development and basic prototype creation; culminating in Sunday night demos and presentations. Register at

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18 The Mu Alpha Lambda Leadership Foundation and Rockford University present the 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast, 9 a.m., at the Burpee Center, Regents Hall, 5050 E. State St. Honors male (minority) high school seniors who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership ability and community concern. Tickets at or eventbrite: MLK Scholarship Breakfast.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 23 PJ Masks Live: Save The Day! 6:30 p.m., at Coronado Performing Arts Center, 314 N. Main St., Rockford. Tickets at 815-968-5222 or

FRIDAY, JANUARY 24 Tickets on sale for comedian Nate Bargatze’s Good Problem to Have stand-up tour, 7 p.m., at Coronado Performing Arts Center, 314 N. Main St., Rockford. Subject of the Netflix special, “The Tennessee Kid.” Tickets at, Coronado PAC, BMO Harris Bank Center box office or 815-968-5222.


December 2019 19



Rockford Chamber members appear bolded. Thank you for your support of your fellow Chamber members.

Distribution Services Company, Loves Park, at piercedistribution. com.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $3,411,839 to the Winnebago County Health Department to address lead hazards in 165 low-income housing units and complete healthy homes assessments on 30 low-income housing units.

Rockford Christian Schools received nearly $25,000 from Jack W. Packard Charitable Remainder Trust. Jack, 92, passed away on May 23.

Savant Capital Management was certified for the 12th consecutive year by the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence, LLC for “Prudent Practices for Investment Advisors.” AAA Rockford offers a service to renew your Illinois registration. Rosecrance received Illinois’ Healthiest Employer by Springbuk®, Crain’s Chicago Business and Cigna for an organization with 500 to 1,499 employees. It received grants from the Try-Beta Club and the John M. Drogosz Memorial Fund of the Freeport Community Foundation for full renovation of its therapeutic ropes course for adolescent clients at Rosecrance Griffin Williamson campus. Chartwell Agency worked with the Navy Office of Community Outreach and General Dynamics Navy Week subcontractors to manage the United States Navy Week program in the Quad Cities region. The outreach goes into areas of the country without a significant Navy presence. Per Mar Security Services received the Resideo Circle of Excellence award in 2019 for commitment to Resideo Intrusion, Video, Access and Fire, the authorized dealer program and total year-over-year growth.

Inventory management tech product wins this year’s FastPitch Anthony Valiulis, Davinci Industries, took home the $5,000 first prize in NIU EIGERlab’s 2019 FastPitch on Oct. 9 for his Accutrack product. Accutrack uses RFID tags and Bluetooth with sensor inputs to help retail establishments manage inventory. Nearly 40 innovators and entrepreneurs pitched their products at the event. David Pack took second place with Box Blox, self-assembling, connectable and collapsible life-size building blocks. Matt Reed took third place with Buildboard, a web and mobile home remodeling marketplace and project management platform that connects home owners and contractors. University of Illinois student Mark Van den Avont won the Young Entrepreneur Award and $500 to invest in HexNest, a replacement for foam to create a gymnastics mat that has better impact-attenuating properties. Branden DeWitt took home the Dale Falconer Spirit of Entrepreneurship award for Nabeau, an organic/bio degradable fire proof gel that extinguishes fires. He won a six-month membership at NIU EIGERlab’s coworking space at NIU-Rockford.

WilliamsMcCarthy LLP ranked among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers© in its 2020 edition for the sixth consecutive year.

Rockton Avenue campus, to begin immediately. Renovations include water remediation work, a modernized surgical prep and recovery area, a makeover of the ICU and medical/surgical units and a newer, modernized look for private rooms, nurses’ stations and hallways. Renovations will not disrupt patient care.

Mercyhealth announced plans to spend millions to complete its state-approved work and modernize Javon Bea Hospital-

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois is partnering with SupplyCore to host an Over the Edge 4 Girl Scouts fundraiser for girls in financial need

on May 30, 2020 in Rockford. Participants will raise $1,000 and rappel the eight-story, historic SupplyCore building. Visit www. RAMP received a $1,287 and $1,754 grant from the Freeport Community Foundation for Youth Education & Advocacy parent trainings and Fast Track, which helps high school students with disabilities reach their full potential. KMK Media Group developed a new website for Pierce

Savant Capital Management acquired Bloomington-based Kingston Wealth Management Group, a $132 million Registered Investment Advisor firm; Savant’s seventh acquisition since 2012. V2 Marketing completed new signage for Benassi Family Dentistry at its Winnebago, Ill., location. It promoted and facilitated a two-day fall workshop and college fair for the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters; drawing more than 450 attendees at the Doubletree Hotel ChicagoOak Brook (Ill.). WATT Global Media released Poultry International magazine, featuring the World’s Top Companies of producers and processors in the poultry and egg industries, and Feed Strategy magazine, featuring the World’s Top Feed Companies. Digital Hive Mind was contracted by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Boston, to provide product photography and capture video of the packaging process to support the launch of TRIKAFTA™, the first triple combination therapy approved for the treatment of cystic fibrosis in patients 12 years and older with the most common CF gene mutation. Wesley Willows received $15,000 from the Kott Memorial Charitable Trust for its Memory Wellness Center, which opened in July 2019 on campus. Boylan Catholic High School inducted 10 senior students into the National Honor Society on Nov. 12; joining the 40 students inducted last spring.


December 2019


on digital MEMBER PICS

Ceremonial ribbon donated by SERVPRO of Rockford.

Rockford University held a groundbreaking celebration on Nov. 6 on a 3,800-sq.-ft. addition to the Seaver Physical Education Center at 5050 E. State St. Funded by the Rock Solid and Ready Campaign, the $3.5-million project will include enhanced fitness space and more classroom space for its growing physical education and exercise science programs.

SwedishAmerican, A Division of UWHealth held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Nov. 7 for its new, expanded Special Procedures Catheterization Laboratory at the hospital at 1401 E. State St., Rockford. The 12,000-sq.-ft. expansion cost $12.9 million for construction and equipment.

Rocktown Adventures held an open house on Nov. 9 at 313 N. Madison St., Rockford, including a live remote broadcast by 95.3 The Bull, in celebration if its fifth anniversary.

Decker 24 Hour Truck & Trailer Inc., held a groundbreaking on Nov. 15 at 1010 ECS Way, in Belvidere, for its 10,500-sq.-ft. expansion; a $1.4 million investment. It’s anticipated to be completed in May 2020. Shown are owners Kit and Deanna Decker.


December 2019 21


Rockford Chamber members appear bolded. Thank you for your support of your fellow Chamber members.

1. Dr. Lisa Bly

2. Gaby Johnson

3. Julia Zimmerman

4. Heather Kelley

5. Brad Lindmark

6. Kirby Granite

7. Ryan Werner

8. Dr. Nishith Shah

9. Dr. Maria Fuertes

10. Dr. Muhammad Janjua

11. Dan Stralow

12. Dr. Mario Affinati

13. Sharon Gilliam

14. Dr. Michael Masteller

15. Anna Toye

16. Chelsea Ballou

17. Paula Jordan

18. Ben Stone

19. Rachel Colletti

20. Lori True

21. Ray Schenk

22. Beth Jacobsen

23. Catherine Povalitis

24. Amber Sanders


Justice Kathryn Zenoff received the Illinois Association of Behavioral Health Friend of the Field Award at a reception at Rosecrance Ware Center.

YWCA Northwestern Illinois welcomed new members to its board: Dr. Lisa Bly (1), Gaby Johnson (2) and Julia Zimmerman (3). Jake Nolin, director of human resources, Rice Lake Weighing Systems, was appointed to The Alliance board effective Jan. 1, 2020. Heather Kelley (4) will serve as Chair of the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) for the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 6. The competition will take place April 3, 2020 in South Bend, IN.

NEW HIRES, PROMOTIONS, RETIREMENTS Forest City Gear hired Brad Lindmark (5) as director of sales. Blackhawk Bank welcomed Tasha Ferguson as vice president regional banking center manager. SwedishAmerican welcomed Dr. Harneet Gahley and Dr. Shinta Jong and advanced practice registered nurses Haleigh Moss and Kathryn Spinker to Creekside Medical Center. It welcomed advanced practice registered nurses Daramis Toribio to Rochelle Clinic, and Denise Kirsten and Susan Faber to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at SwedishAmerican Hospital. Arc Design Resources, Inc., hired Kirby Granite (6) as project engineer after interning three summers, and Ryan Werner (7) as survey technician. Mercyhealth welcomed Dr. Nishith Shah (8) to Mercyhealth Perryville, Dr. Maria Fuertes (9), anesthesiology, to Javon Bea Hospital–Riverside and Rockton, and Dr. Muhammad Janjua (10), neurosurgery, to Javon Bea Hospital and Physician Clinic– Riverside. Mercyhealth promoted Dan

25. David Cyrs

26. Penny Wirtjes

Stralow (11) to manager of onboarding and physician liaison programs. Dr. Mario Affinati (12) joined the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Javon Bea Hospital–Riverside, Rockford as program director. Sharon Gilliam, (13) MSN, RN, was promoted to system manager of accreditation and patient safety. Dr. Michael Masteller (14) joined Surgical Associates of Northern Illinois at Mercyhealth–Rockton. Kermit Dahlen, regional president, Rosecrance Jackson Centers, announced his plan to retire in March, 2020. Rosecrance Health Network launched a national search for his replacement. First National Bank and Trust promoted Anna Toye (15) to senior vice president and human resources director, Chelsea Ballou (16) to senior vice president and director of digital banking, and Paula Jordan (17) to assistant trust officer in the Rock and Winnebago County markets. Fehr Graham hired Ben Stone (18) as an engineering technician in Rockford. Wipfli LLP welcomed Rachel Colletti (19), senior accountant, and Lori True (20), senior compliance specialist, to its Rockford office. SVA Trust Company promoted Ray Schenk (21) to senior wealth manager and senior trust officer and Beth Jacobsen (22) to trust officer. Catherine Povalitis (23) rejoined

27. David McCoy

Chartwell Agency as a vice president. Blackhawk Bank welcomed Amber Sanders (24), assistant vice president, controller.

EMPLOYEE/COMMUNITY RECOGNITIONS, AWARDS Michael Roh, M.D., Christopher Sliva, M.D., and Fred Sweet, M.D., Rockford Spine Center, were named to the America’s Most Honored Professionals 2019 list. David Cyrs (25), CYRS Wealth Advisors LLC, received a certificate of completion and continuing education in Aurora, Colo., on the Estate Planning and the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2018 in October. Vitaliy Dobrogorskiy, D.C., associate doctor, Upper Cervical Care CenterRockford, completed the examination in X-ray Alignment and X-ray Technique Certification for the Level 1 Candidacy from the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association. Michael Roh, M.D., Christopher Sliva, M.D., Fred Sweet, M.D., and Marie Walker, M.D., Rockford Spine Center, received for the sixth consecutive year the On-Time Doctor Award by Vitals. Boylan Catholic High School students participated in an athletic signing ceremony on Nov. 13: TJ Baker, golf, Southern Illinois UniversityEdwardsville, and Peyton Kennedy, girls basketball, St. Louis University.

Penny Wirtjes (26), vice president of the board, GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford, was named the National Volunteer of the Year at the annual national conference in Schaumburg, Ill.

OF GENERAL INTEREST The Second Chances Summit II, organized by State Senator Steve Stadelman on Nov. 1 at the Nordlof Center in downtown Rockford, drew nearly 170 people for free legal assistance from volunteer attorneys to prepare petitions to expunge or seal their criminal records. Natasha Davis, Nielsen, keynoted WATT Global Media’s Petfood R&D Showcase in October at Kansas State University. The topic: The 16 pet food brands named most prominently in June 2019 by the Food and Drug Administration’s for cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy. They together experienced a 10 percent decrease in sales. Greg Watt, president/CEO, WATT Global Media, highlighted the impact and benefits of its Results-Only Work Environment work culture in a CNN business article. David McCoy (27), president, First National Bank and Trust, traveled with other representatives as a part of the Wisconsin Bankers Association to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The topic: How new regulations impacted community banks and their ability to serve customers in Wisconsin.


December 2019


MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS Thank you to members who renewed with the Rockford Chamber of Commerce in October, 2019 A.W. Anderson Agency, Inc. Absolute Fire Protection, Inc. Accu-Cut Inc Alden Debes Rehabilitation and Health Care Center Alden Park Strathmoor Alpine Fireside Health Center Alpine Kiwanis Club Area Erectors, Inc. Ballard Properties BelRock Asphalt Paving Inc. Belter Machinery Co., Inc. Benson Stone Company, Inc. Bergstrom Inc. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Crosby Starck Real Estate Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education Briargate Management, LLC Briggs Floor Sanding & Refinishing Camelot World Travel Campbell Science Corporation Carz R’ Us, General Automotive & Tire Center for Sight & Hearing City of Rockford Cloisters of Forest Hills ColorLab Cosmetics, Inc. Come Together Rockford Crusader Community Health On West State Street, Woodward Campus for Community Health Care Crusader Community Health Auburn Campus Crusader Community Health Loves Park Crusader Community Health Belvidere Crusader Community Health on Broadway, Uram Building Crusader Community Health On West State Street, Woodward Campus for Community Health Care D & S Marine Inc. Dodge Lanes, Inc. Fehr Graham GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford Giovanni’s, Inc. Global Display Solutions, Inc. GrahamSpencer Brand + Content Solutions Holiday Inn of Rockford HomeStart Jimmy John’s

Louis Bageanis McDaniels Marketing Midtown District Inc. MOD Pizza Napleton Honda NLT Title, a division of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. Nutrition Works, Inc. Olson Funeral & Cremation Services Ltd./Fred C. Olson Chapel Olson Funeral & Cremation Services Ltd./Fred C. Olson Chapel Olson Funeral & Cremation Services, Ltd./North Main Chapel & Care Center Piping Industry Council of the Rockford Area Professional Graphics Inc. R.J. Bowers Distributors, Inc. Remedies Renewing Lives Rock River Water Reclamation District Rockford Housing Authority Rockford I.D. Shop, Inc. Rockford Promise Rockford Systems, LLC Rockford Toolcraft, Inc. S.J. Carlson Fire Protection Saint Anthony College of Nursing SecondFirst Church SmithAmundsen LLC Summit Radiology Tebala Event Center The Harvard State Bank The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Northern Illinois Triangle Metals USA University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford University of Illinois College of Nursing - Rockford Campus University of Illinois-Chicago College of Pharmacy at Rockford Upper Cervical Care Center Upper Iowa University Rockford Center US Lubricants Van Galder Bus/A Coach USA Co. Village Green Home & Garden Winnebago County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Winnebago County Housing Authority Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office

DECEMBER MEMBER ANNIVERSARIES Thank you to our members celebrating their anniversaries with the Rockford Chamber of Commerce





Northern Illinois Terrazzo & Tile Company Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education


Holmertz-Parsons, CPA’s MembersAlliance Credit Union Special Power, Inc.

American Solutions for Business (Formerly Skyward Promotions) Hicksgas Belvidere


Ballard Properties Faith Center Kelly Services New York Life - Chad DeMarre


Illinois state lottery’s new game to help the homeless To help address homelessness throughout the state, Illinois Lottery officials introduced a new game with the proceeds going to the Homeless Prevention Revenue Fund administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services. The fund provides rent and utility assistance to those in need. The new scratch-off ticket, “Easy as 123,” started Sept. 3 and is the first-ever Illinois Lottery game that addresses homelessness. It is $2 to play, with a maximum amount of $20,000 a player can win. Syverson’s Week-in-Review: Oct. 7 to 11, 2019

Billions for roads and bridges The Illinois Department of Transportation announced a multiyear, $23.5 billion transportation construction program on Oct. 21, including a proposal to spend more than $3.7 billion in the current fiscal year for improvements, new construction and repairs to more than 4,200 miles of roadways and nearly 700 bridges statewide. According to a 2018 study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, the state’s deteriorating roadway miles increased from 1,700 in 2001 to 3,300 in 2015, and 20 percent of state roads were rated in “poor” condition, compared to only eight percent in 2001. It’s been about 10 years since the last significant capital construction program. The General Assembly’s bipartisan action is funded by federal and local match dollars, bonding and other sources of revenue. All of the funds generated from the state’s increased motor fuel taxes on July 1, 2019 will go towards the transportation-related projects. The

Illinois Transportation Taxes and Fees Lockbox Amendment on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot in Illinois, approved by nearly 79 percent of voters, prohibits lawmakers from using transportation funds for anything other than their stated purpose.

Syverson’s Week-in-Review: Oct. 21 to 25, 2019

Vehicle maintenance costs The Illinois Economic Policy Institute released a report on April 4, 2018, “Forecasting Bumpy Roads Ahead: An Assessment of Illinois’ Transportation Needs.” It cites a 2018 study by the national transportation research group, TRIP, stating that the added stress from poorly maintained roadways is increasing the likelihood of repairs, and depreciating the value of vehicles faster. The study used a variety of data from AAA and the Highway Development and Management Model, which estimates vehicle operating costs related to pavement conditions. Drivers in Chicago are estimated to pay an additional $627 per year due to the inferior roadway system, while drivers in Rockford can expect to pay an additional $639.


Where your beauty career begins! 657 Highgrove Place, 61108 Monica Williams 815-307-3622 www.CosmetologyAndSpa

DECKER 24 HOUR TRUCK AND TRAILER, INC. Truck & Trailer Repair, Fleet Maintenance 1010 ECS Way Belvidere, IL 61008 Deanna Decker 847-481-9851


Custom Automation and Integration P.O. Box 12 South Beloit, IL 61080 David Buckles 888-525-4950


Regenerative Medicine, Total Health and Wellness 13019 N. 2nd St. Roscoe, IL 61073 Brian Arn 815-389-7911


Sprint Preferred Dealer (Wireless) Contact 7200 Harrison Ave., Ste. G-27B, 61112 Moe Allan 815-332-4444


Trusted Computer Support for Businesses throughout Northern Illinois & Southern Wisconsin Dawn Beutjer 847-516-8218


December 2019 23




IGNITE hosts a Happy Hour at Smokey Bones, 4:30 to 6 p.m., at 6690 E. State St., Rockford.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10 Ribbon Cutting, 1 to 2 p.m., at First Northern Credit Union, 6832 Stalter Dr., Rockford.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11 Breakfast Buzz, 7:30 to 9 a.m., at 5050 E. State St., Puri School of Business, room 124, Rockford. Features Einar Forsman, president/ CEO, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, on “Maximizing Your Chamber Membership - 2020 Sneak Peak.” Sponsored by RSM US LLP.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12 Ambassador Holiday Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Hoffman House, 7550 E. State St., Rockford. Ribbon Cutting and Open House, 3 to 5 p.m., at Associated Bank, 612 N. Main St., Rockford.


THURSDAY, JANUARY 9 Ribbon Cutting, 10 to 11 a.m., at Edgewater Medical Center, SwedishAmerican, A Division of UW Health, 2909 N. Main St., Rockford.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15 Open House & Ribbon Cutting, 3 to 6 p.m., at Grace Funeral & Cremation Services, 4301 N. Main St., Rockford. Ribbon cutting at 4 p.m.

ADVERTISERS INDEX The Alliance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

OSF HealthCare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Blackhawk Bank. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Quartz. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Brian Thomas Photography. . . . . . . .20 Collins Aerospace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Commerce. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 23-24

CoyleKiley Insurance Agency Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Rosecrance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Gary W. Anderson Architects . . . . . . 10

Schmeling Construction Co.. . . . . . . 10

The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC). . . . . . 15

Stenstrom Construction Group. . . . . 12

Mercyhealth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Stillman Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Midland States Bank. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

SupplyCore, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Northern Public Radio. . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Thayer Lighting, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9



Rockford Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, 5 to 8 p.m., at Giovanni’s, Inc., 610 N. Bell School Road, Rockford. Keynote speaker Hannah Ubl, Good Company Consulting, presents “Creating A Workplace That Doesn’t Suck.” Includes the announcement of the Citizen of the Year Award. Sponsored by OSF HealthCare (presenting), Associated Bank (gold), The Alliance and RSM US LLP (bronze), Gallagher (wine) and Event Floral (centerpiece).

Rockford Chamber of


Chamber Staff / Call 815-987-8100...........................................Direct Line Jeff Bailey, Membership Development Executive...................................815-316-4336

Carmen Brenz, Program & Event Coordinator ....................................815-316-4302 Einar K. Forsman, President & CEO........................................... 815-987-8100 Heidi M. Garner, Chief Operating Officer..................................... 815-316-4312 Olivia Guzman, Administrative Assistant/Customer Service Rep...........815-987-8100 Doug Hessong, Director of Publications & Technology.................... 815-316-4338 Lynette Jacques, Vice President, Member Investment. . ................... 815-316-4317 Kristin Muehlfelder, Member Relations....................................................815-316-4315 Caitlin Pusateri, Vice President, Leadership Development.....................815-316-4337

Are you a Member with News to Share? Send news releases and other items of interest to the business community to: The VOICE, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, 308 W. State St., Ste. 190, Rockford, IL 61101


Doug Rand, Accounting Manager/Controller................................ 815-316-4316 Joan Sundvall, Membership Contact Coordinator.......................... 815-316-4320 Mike Mastroianni, Executive Director, Small Business Development Center......................................................815-987-8100


DIRECTORS Andrew Benson Benson Stone Company, Inc.

Chair of the Board Michele Petrie Wintrust Commercial Banking & Mortgage

Kimberly Blascoe Wipfli LLP Jan Bowman TLC Construction

Vice Chair Dan Ross Fehr Graham Vice Chair Jean Crosby Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Crosby Starck Real Estate Treasurer Amy Ott Boylan Catholic High School Immediate Past Chair Richard Zumwalt Z Resource

LaVonne Brown Savant Capital Management Paula Carynski OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center Samuel J. Castree Staff Management, Inc. Doug Curry Stenstrom Companies

Tim Honquest Honquest Family Funeral Home with Crematory

Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green Univ. of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford

Jeff Hultman Illinois Bank & Trust

Karl Swanson Rockford Bank & Trust Co

Michael F. Iasparro Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP Kris L. Kieper Machajewski YWCA Northwestern Illinois Mike Paterson Mid-West Family Broadcasting Mark Peterson CBL Associates Cherry Vale Denise Sasse RSM US LLP

Sue Schrieber Don Daniels Mercyhealth SwedishAmerican, A Division of UW Health John Schuster Rosecrance Health Rebecca Epperson Network Chartwell Agency Teri Sharp Ira Grimmett American Precision Collins Aerospace Supply, Inc.

Jon Thompson Butitta Brothers Automotive Terry Voskuil Woodward

EX-OFFICIO DIRECTORS Einar K. Forsman President & CEO, Rockford Chamber of Commerce John Groh Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Nathan Bryant Rockford Area Economic Development Council


(Disruptive Technologies, Websites, Telecommunications, Computers)

Media & Marketing

(Social, Digital, Print Channels)

For information on advertising, call 815


Profile for Rockford Chamber of Commerce

December Voice 2019