A $30 million plan to reinvest in the region’s amateur sports tourism offerings could become part of Rockford’s pioneering history and tradition of innovation, Rockford City Manager Jim Ryan said Wednesday night.
As an audience gathered in the Ingersoll Building to hear the plans, Ryan reminded the small crowd that the industrial location along the Rock River was once known as the W.F. and John Barnes Company Building.
It was home to manufacturing pioneers who over a span of about six decades went from creating foot-powered woodworking equipment to electrical controls and developing new ways to harness nuclear energy in the first half of the 20th Century.
“We were pioneers in the late 1800s, we’ve been pioneers in manufacturing and we are pioneers in the amateur sports industry,” Ryan said.
“As manufacturing matured and even as our amateur sports industry matures, we have to reinvent ourselves. So as I sit in this building, I think of how we are going to wake up the echoes again to innovation and to the sports industry to create something that is truly unique and special in Rockford. Short of the manufacturing industry, we are really a community of families and entertainment. I can’t think of anything that is more of a natural fit.”
A full copy of the”Reclaiming First: An Economic Development Case and Master Plan for Regional Sports Tourism” report is available at reclaimingfirst.org.