If business clusters affect perception; Rockford’s other issues are reality

Some city officials now feel that when too many businesses, such as check-cashing stores, tobacco stores, and pawn shops are clustered in an area of a given size, it may create an unhealthy business environment leaving the perception that the city has a poor economy.

As the city ponders ways to reduce the “perception” of these cluster businesses, real issues come to mind that affects the city’s economy – such as double digit unemployment, the fifth highest or higher property tax in the nation, or the ninth highest crime rate, the school system, and the lack of a skilled workforce.

Will cluster laws that limit these businesses coming to the city, reduce the competition with similar businesses now safely within city boundaries? Current businesses might see cluster laws as a distinct advantage to them by limiting similar businesses from entering the existing market.

Does the license process discriminate against certain businesses, with the city ultimately deciding who the winners and the losers are, with a business jackpot of license fees?

Additional businesses could influence the taxes on the residential properties regardless of where they are located within the city. Until the economy picks up, should Rockford be so discriminating toward any business willing to invest their money in the area?

Let’s hope the city of Rockford will have this conversation of the pros and cons as a community before final judgement is passed on new cluster business restrictions.