New initiative in Rockford aims to help minorities and women in - – Rockford’s News Leader

New initiative in Rockford aims to help minorities and women in business


Roni Golan says owning an art gallery is full of up's and down's. 

"Very hard, but very rewarding because you can create an impact," says Golan. 

The Israeli native is well-versed in the art of trial and error. "The Underground" is the fifth spot he's owned in Rockford.

"You can close and go home, but if you like what you do, you gotta do another one until you find something that works," says Golan. 

The City of Rockford says it's seeing more and more non-natives here in the city. 

"If you look at the year 2000 to 2015 we had a 2% growth in native born residents," says Mayor Tom McNamara. "We had a 67% increase in foreign born residents."

Which is why Mayor McNamara is starting a new initiative to foster that diversity.  A committee that focuses on helping women and minorities in business. 

"As an alderman, we see so many people who don't know where to start," says Alderman Joe Chiarelli. 

Mayor McNamara put Chiarelli at the reigns of this committee. As the chair of the Codes and Regulations Committee, he says he sees new business owners tied up in a web of city ordinances.

"Once they do start they see all these regulations and all this red tape so, that's what were trying to do to make the city of Rockford more business friendly.," says Chiarelli. 

Red tape like different fees and ordinances that can be an unforeseen roadblock to a new business owner. 

"Look at the current practices of the city of Rockford, the best practices nationwide of other municipalities so we can help ease businesses to start and businesses to expand," says McNamara. 

Golan says he like the idea of having a more open line of communication with the city. He feels like it might spillover into the community. 

"Instead of bringing businesses, you're bringing culture.  So then people say, 'Oh! I want to live in this city!'"

The next step is for this committee to go before the code and regulation committee. The city says it hopes the committee can start meeting next month. 

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