The City of Rockford announces two new roles for its staff Thursday, including a business liaison to help those opening shop in the Forest City get through their beginning phases.
"I used to quit every Thursday."
That's how Poloy Matrangea-Happach, a co-owner of Bella Luna Bakery, says she felt when she and her colleague first opened up shop in downtown Rockford back in 2012.
"We were just trying to keep our heads above water and pedal as fast as we can," she says.
She never handed in her notice, though. Instead, the bakery just signed a new lease to expand. It's a business move she says almost didn't happen.
"I was so disappointed that there were so many hoops and struggles for us to stay here," Matrangea-Happach says.
Now, the city says it wants to make the process easier for companies to open up shop in Rockford with a business liaison role.
"Anyone who is feeling stressed with working with the city of Rockford, I wanna talk to," says Karl Franzen, an economic development coordinator who will take on the business liaison role.
Part of his role is to guide businesses through proper channels to get the correct licensing and permits and give owners advice they may need to keep their company going.
"It can be confusing and frustrating, but it can also be very costly because not going through the process the first time can add delays to the project, it can require a business to go back and make fixes that add to the cost of the project and we want to avoid those," Franzen says.
The city's new role is a tool Bella Luna says is needed.
"You don't have time to run to the city hall," Matrangea-Happach says."There's times we don't even have time to return phone calls for two or three days so to have a liaison from the city is tremendous for a small business."
A tool for small businesses -- something the city hopes will help them grow and stay in Rockford.
The city says it does not keep track of the number of businesses who open and close their doors in Rockford.
The city says businesses can call Karl Franzen at 779-348-7419 or email him at Karl.Franzen@Rockfordil.gov.