Winnebago County leaders believe curbing crime is the key to growing the Rockford area economy. That's why it was the main focus on today's State of the County address.
Usually leaders talk about business development, education, budgets, but all that was put into handouts so that crime could get almost the full attention of the speech.
"It's really incumbent on us as a community to work together on crime because it has a direct impact on the jobs in our community. It has a direct impact on what companies want to be here and what people want to move to our region to take a job in our region," says Janyce Fadden, Rockford Area Economic Development Council president.
She took part in the State of the County address. Fadden spoke about how companies look at crime as a cost to their businesses. High crime areas mean a business might be a target or their employees could bring in problems
"Site selection is about site eliminating it's about eliminating risk and so anything that looks like risk to the company could pop us out of the search," says Fadden.
Along with looking for way to drive down crime Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen says he needs community partners. The county recently teamed up with United Way to expand the 2-1-1 call service. It will soon cover any non-emergencies issues to keep 9-1-1 lines open.
"Maybe it's a parked car, maybe its damage next door, maybe it's a broken window, what it might be you can call that 2-1-1 number," says Christiansen.
The county also plans to partner further with Lutheran Social Services to expand it's prisoner re-entry program to stop parolees from becoming repeat offenders. Christiansen also wants to hire on more sheriff deputies.
"We are struggling some as all relative to our budgets. We've made the cuts we've had to make, we've balanced our budgets. We do have needs in our law enforcement area but we've done very well," says Christiansen.
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