Organization works towards revitalizing west Rockford with new d - – Rockford’s News Leader

Organization works towards revitalizing west Rockford with new developments


Community members are joining together in an effort to revitalize their neighborhood. Along with local agencies, one group hopes to see that development come to life on Rockford's west side.

If you ask Earl Dotson what he envisions for his neighborhood -- his face lights up.

"A department store, a charter bus service, a bowling alley, skating rink...and I really like the one where we're going to deal with manufacturing facilities," said Dotson.

As the president of Progressive West Rockford Development, he wants to revamp the area of South Main and West State streets.

"As that community is developed, the income comes up, the businesses are established, and the businesses are owned by people who are indigenous to that area.... then the crime will go down," Dotson said.

Developer Jim Keeling says he wants to make that part of Rockford a more walkable and united neighborhood.

"This is the original Rockford and the area spans the river, so the river is going to be used to connect us rather than separate us," said Keeling, a developer with Rockford's Purpose-Built Initiative.

The group hopes these facilities will attract the youth, and spark new appreciation for their hometown.

"We can do that here," Dotson said. "Built up the community here. And young people will stay ... I can be a marketing specialist, I can be a machine specialist, I can do other things here and I don't have to leave my community."

"We've been studying and in dialogue with Purpose-Built Communities which is a group out of Atlanta that helps cities redevelop," Keeling said.

Progressive West Development also aims to partner with local agencies, like Transform Rockford and Rockford Housing Authority to inspire residents to make a better future for the community.

"That's my hope... is to raise hope -- and I see it," Dotson said.

The group hopes to secure a partnership and funds soon to move forward with the proposal.

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