ROCKFORD - "We had quite a large crowd at one point come walking across the bridge," said Taco Betty's general manager Dann Schallenberger.
New faces walked on the sidewalks of downtown Rockford this weekend. The city is hosting a state wrestling tournament at the BMO Harris Bank Center, a volleyball tournament at the UW Health Sports Factory, and a 'County Legends' show at the Coronado.
While it may be good for sports and the arts, it's also good for business. "We're expecting to be pretty busy tomorrow afternoon," Schallenberger said. Local business owners in the downtown district welcome the extra foot traffic.
"Being downtown, there's people on the other side of town that maybe don't know that we exist as a coffee shop," said Rockford Roasting Company Co-Owner Benjamin Chauvin. Chauvin says this weekend will be a chance for him to make an impression with a new group of customers, ones he hopes become repeat customers.
"Five years ago it wasn't as bustling as it is today, and it's an honor to be a part of it," Chauvin said. "It erases the stigma of downtown as not a safe and secure place," Schallenberger said. The Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau predicts with everything happening this weekend, it will mean $675,000 will be injected into the local economy.
Schallenberger says not only is it an opportunity for big business, but it's also a chance to enhance downtown's image. "When everyone comes down here, whether it's city market or these big sports tournaments, their awesome," Schallenberger said. "I mean they literally help every business down here, when every business thrives we all thrive," he added.
Chauvin says it puts Rockford on the map, showing what the Forest City really has to offer. "They're coming in looking for an experience and we're able to provide that here as a company in a city where they weren't expecting maybe to not find such an elevated experience," he said.
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