A record-breaking number of visitors came out to Winnebago County last year. Experts say it puts the area on the road to even bigger success.
7.6 million guests came to Winnebago County in 2014 and they spent a lot of money. $340 million to be exact.
Cory Jobe is the director of the Illinois Office of Tourism. He says this is a huge deal for Rockford's economic growth.
"Tourism means jobs," he says. "Tourism means continued revenue, and what I love here about Rockford, tourism means better quality of life. I came into town late yesterday afternoon and had a chance to tour the downtown, and Rockford is make a major comeback in terms of the quality of life."
He says things like Rockford Airfest and Rockford City Market are just a few events bringing people to the area.
Not only are visitors coming, they are spending more money. 6% more from 2013 to 2014.
Rockford Area Convention & Visitors President John Groh says those visitors are talking about Rockford, which brings even more guests to the area.
"People are not only taking note of Rockford, but they're taking action and they're coming here in increasing numbers, and that is good for each and every resident of Winnebago County," he says. "When somebody else comes here and they spend their money, they help put a local person to work."
And with the new businesses opening up and the expansion of others, experts say the future of Rockford is only looking brighter.
"We all want to live in a great place," Groh says. "Regardless of where you live around the world, you want to enjoy coming home to your community. To do that, we always, whether it's in Rockford or someplace else, we have to collectively work together to improve our community."
The top five events in the region last year were Airfest, 4th of July, the Winnebago County Fair, Stroll on State and the Festival of Lights.