River District Assoc. awards Heart of Rockford recipients - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

River District Assoc. awards Heart of Rockford recipients

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Gary Anderson Gary Anderson
Heart of Rockford award Heart of Rockford award
Bella Luna Bakery owners Polly Matranga Happach and Lorie Parker-Weinrich. Bella Luna Bakery owners Polly Matranga Happach and Lorie Parker-Weinrich.
ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Some people would say you can measure the heartbeat of Rockford by how well downtown is doing.  Thursday night, organizers honor businesses, groups and people who keep the center of the city beating strongly.

"There's so much authenticity here and true people of passion and dedication and devotion and we need to celebrate that. I guess that's what we are doing here tonight," says Pablo Korona, created "Our City, Our Story" video series showcasing Rockford.

Korona took home the Commitment by an Individual Award.  There were more than 15 businesses, events and individuals  nominated for their contributions to the city's River District Area, events like ArtScene, businesses like the District Bar and Grill and people like Lloyd and Diane Koch who are renovating the Prairie Street Brew House, the space we are in.

"You know a strong downtown means a strong Rockford and really a strong region so we are all putting our efforts into strengthen that," says Gary Anderson, president of the River District.

Neither the size nor the length of time a business has been around determines a winner. The owners of Bella Luna Bakery, which are known mainly for their City Market booth, took home the best new business award.

"We were surprised, a little business like ours, we never thought," says Polly Matranga Happach, Heart of Rockford winner.

But even with the awards and accolades, Pamela Schallhorn, a nominee and head of the River District's Shop Local campaign says this is not a time to rest.  She says the people in the room and those who want a better Rockford need to help build it.

"The survey I mentioned we had over 1100 respondents.  They all want a neater, nicer, cooler downtown and I think that's the message. I think we are starting to get it. We can't ignore our problems, we have to find some really creative solutions," says Schallhorn.

Besides Pablo Korona and Bella Luna Bakery, the other winners were WilliamsMcCarthy, PR Etc. and Screw City Beer Festival.

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