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Woodward CEO Tom Gendron Outlines His 'Tranformation Rockford' Plan

Leader of 'Transformation Rockford' effort is inviting citizens to an 'Engagement Summit' this Thursday.
ROCKFORD -- We've been reporting on how Rockford's 'Transformation Man,' Woodward CEO Tom Gendron, has a bold plan to turnaround the city he loves.  But how will it work?

First off, Gendron is a businessman, and so he attacks problems like one.  One aspect of that mindset is you must identify and attack problems to be successful.

That concept is detailed in a widely used business book called 'Good to Great,' which examined what makes good companies great companies.  In Chapter 4, page 65, is a key step.  'Confront the Brutal Facts' to achieve greatness.

Rockford has a lot of brutal facts.  For example, in just the past year, 'Eyewitness News' has reported on how Rockford public schools have the worst performance in the Stateline when it came to students meeting or exceeding state standards, that Yahoo calls Rockford  the 11th most dangerous city in America, that recent unemployment reports show the city losing jobs while another report ranks Rockford's property taxes as the highest in the Stateline.  Those and other issues are at the heart of why Forbes ranks Rockford the 3rd most miserable city in America.

Gendron says the 'misery' depiction may not be fair, but acknowledges it's based on facts -- brutal facts.  "From poverty to crime to a perception of the schools," he told Mimi Murphy in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview, "we have issues with property values that maybe are tied to tax rates.  All these tings have led to these rating we have."

Gendron sees the things many Rockfordians see which have held our city back.  "I see dysfunction.," he says.  Whether in the private or public section, he's observed that ".. people aren't always trusting each other, working well together or sharing in activites to better communtiy.  I think those are things we need to overcome as a community to make progress."

But how?  Gendron talks about key concepts he's learned running a succesful business which he believes can be hallmarks of building a successful community. 

Number one.  Stop studying ... Start acting!  Gendrom says, "There's been 40 studies done in the last 25 years. So we've been good at commissioning  studeies but we haven't taken the action."

Number two.  Get organizations working together towards established goals instead of each following their own agends.   "At work I call it, 'random acts of good work,'" he says, "so things are happening but they're not aligned . And we haven't really moved the needle of improving Rockford, the greater Rockford area from it's rating which isn't real high to a really top performing community.."

Number three, engage everyone, and not just the same list of familiar names from the past.  Gendron clearly wants to expand the pool of civic engagement "... so we're working from faith based organizations to non profits to  buisness community. Trying to work together to say how can we change the direction of the community and make it a top place to live?"

And number four, provide the tools critical to achieving success.  Gendron calls it 'transformational mapping.'  He's also quietly raised millions of dollars to help implement it.  Put it all together, and you have 'Transformation Rockford.'

Gendron believes that, "If we get wide engagement people understanding and working together, we get a shared vision of where we want the region and the broader community to go get alingment around that, and then implement, we can make progress."

That's where the citizens come in.  If you want to be a part of transforming our community, then Tom Gendron would like to invite you to an 'Engagement Summit.'  It's being held on Thursday, November 14th at the Coronado Theater.  Doors open at 5:30 with the summit starting at 6pm.  'Eyewitness News' will be airing it live on MyNetwork TV, which is also digital channel 17.2.
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