Transform Rockford Update: The Next Question is “How?”

As the nonprofit Transform Rockford continues to pursue positive improvements across our region, effective strategy has become an essential component. See how the group is making progress.

Transform Rockford. How do we make this happen? How do we transform a city? We all want our community to thrive … to offer a better quality of life for the people in the community … but it’s not an easy task transforming a region. Yet that’s what we set out to do … Transform Rockford.
To get the job done, we are using a proven process … one that has been successfully used by major corporations with extraordinary results. The Transform Rockford process is a six-step process. We’ve already moved through the first two steps: We did an analysis of our community and made the case for change, and then we gathered the community together in dozens of forums to create a vision for a Transformed Rockford.
Our vision is that we are a Top 25 community where our people are engaged, inspired and are leading successful and fulfilling lives. Our community is recognized as one of the very best regions in which to live. Our residents are thriving and enjoying a superior quality of life. We have transformed our community by embracing our diversity, fostering a crime-free culture and delivering an excellent education to all of our children. We have an agile, innovative and strong economy built on the renaissance of North American manufacturing, logistics, agribusiness and our adjacency to urban centers such as Chicago. Our infrastructure is robust, our workforce is sought after, and our vibrant neighborhoods and cultural and recreational amenities draw people to locate in our region.
As a community, we also defined individual areas of impact if this vision is to become a reality … Safety, Healthy Lifestyles, Education, Economy and Jobs, Planning, Funding and Alignment, Quality, Physical Infrastructure, Families and Neighborhoods, Leadership and Youth, Arts and Recreation, and Unity, Pride and Culture. We gave some definition to each of these areas by putting them in the form of Impact Statements.
We saw that these Impact Statements could be grouped into categories. And so we created our Transformation Map by grouping similar and related Impact Statements together into what we call Segments. Think of it as the wheel of a bicycle divided into segments … or if you’re feeling a little hungry, think of five pieces of pie. There are five segments: Renewal, Revitalization, Sense of Place, Re-framing a 21st Century Community, and Funding our Future.
There are five Segments, and then there are 14 spokes on the wheel. The Impact Statements are the spokes on the wheel: education, safety, quality, economy and jobs, family and neighborhoods, and so on. But the biggest question now is, “How?”
How do we make this happen? How do our schools become nationally recognized for excellence? How do our neighborhoods become strong, vibrant and interconnected? How do we develop the next generation of leaders? How do we become a hub of ideas and innovation that attracts world-class industries and employers? What’s our strategy to develop a skilled and sought-after workforce that enables all families to improve their standard of living?
How do we celebrate our diversity and become more unified in the process? How do we develop transportation and communication systems that are robust and accessible? And how do we create a community where all people are safe and feel safe regardless of their address?
We’ve got to have a strategy. We’ve got to answer the question, “How?” To do that, teams of people have been organized and have begun the work of developing these strategies.
Remember the bicycle wheel with segments and spokes? There are Spokes and Segment Teams. And both sets of teams are working on the ‘how’ question and both need your ideas.
So let’s get to work! Go to and share your ideas.
Patrick O’Keefe is Communications Manager for Transform Rockford.