In decades past, Rockford frequently was cited as “average America” – a place where marketers tested products, pollsters sampled opinions, companies manufactured products for everyman.
More recently, Rockford has been the butt of such lists as Forbes magazine’s “Most Miserable Cities” list, placing third behind Detroit and Flint MI.
This past weekend, two major newspapers published lengthy articles, focusing on two very different aspects of Illinois’ third-largest city. One detailed the dubious honor of being the “underwater real estate” capital of the U.S.; the other chronicled the depth and reach of an important industry, both to our area and to the world.
In The Wall Street Journal, Conor Dougherty writes:
Once a prosperous manufacturing hub that created the airbrush and electric garage-door opener, Rockford is now the nation's underwater capital. In about 32% of the metro area's mortgages, the homes are worth less than the money owed.
For the Chicago Tribune, Gregory Karp reports:
In trying to claw its way back to prosperity, Rockford only recently stumbled upon a hidden hometown gem – a quietly thriving aerospace and aviation industry.
Civic leaders in Rockford have made a point of emphasizing the good the city has to offer while acknowledging problems that need to be overcome. These articles provide an interesting mix of information for their consideration.