Best Practices - Vol. IV

Mayor Charles Box
Blueprint for Rockford's Future: 2005

The City of Rockford has recently been given a Best Practice award in the area of Consolidated Planning by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The award recognized a community-wide planning process called "Blueprint for Rockford's Future: 2005"

The Blueprint was spearheaded by Mayor Charles Box beginning in March of 1994. The process involved over 500 Rockford citizens in a nine-month effort to produce a vision and an implementation plan to reach that vision within the 10- year time frame of the plan. It is currently in its second year of implementation with many success stories already underway.

What impressed HUD about Blueprint was a) the Mayor's personal leadership in this effort; b) bringing together all segments of the community; and c) sustaining the effort for several years.

What Mayor Box believes is most important is that the effort was community-wide. Rockford, a city of 145,000 people, is like all urban areas in this country; it has its "haves" and its "have nots." The City is also divided geographically, with growth all on one side and decline all on the other. Although there were three reasons for doing the Blueprint -- HUD's Consolidated Plan requirement, an Empowerment Zone application, and a plan to lead the city into the 21st century -- and two of those three involved only the "have not" areas, Mayor Box was adamant that all members of the community take ownership of the entire community. They did.

The "breaking through bureaucracy" aspect of this effort is that HUD staff recognized that Rockford was not only complying with the planning process for the Consolidated Plan, but also meeting the neighborhood revitalization area regulations. The City did not have to go through any additional planning efforts to secure that interpretation. Among other benefits, besides saving time and energy for the City staff, is the confusion avoided for Rockford citizens who experienced one seamless, high energy, responsive planning effort.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (815) 987-5590

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