Anger, frustration after Rock Valley College chooses Belvidere for new facility

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rock Valley College’s new Advanced Technology Center could be headed to Boone County, and some Rockford residents aren’t happy about it.

The RVC Board of Trustees voted 5 to 2 last night in favor of Belvidere School District’s site proposal. It was one of three finalists, including Chicago Rockford International Airport and the Stenstrom Center.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and Fifth Ward Alderwoman Venita Harvey said Friday that they’d been fielding calls and emails all day from those not happy with the decision.

“It’s a shame that RVC has moved so far away from the populations who need it the most,” McNamara said. “If you’re fortunate enough to own a vehicle, it will take you 25 minutes from downtown to get there, and it’s certainly not accessible to those individuals who have been historically underserved.”

Harvey agreed, saying, “I thought that Rock Valley had really given it some thought and consideration, and decided to embrace Rockford’s urban core. That’s gone.”

RVC Board Chairman Patrick Murphy said the prospect of working closely with the Belvidere School District, which would save them about $4 million and expand the college’s reach, made Belvidere the right choice.

“In the end, I think there’s a partnership. There’s a cost factor to it. And then, there’s also the regional thinking,” he said. “Unfortunately, many people think that Rock Valley College serves only Rockford, but they’re less than 50% of our constituents, and we do not have any facilities outside the city.”

Murphy said the goal is to have the ATC open for classes in 2021, at the Big Thunder Mall.

He also said money saved from choosing the Belvidere location could go toward programs to help improve the graduation rate of Rockford Public School students.

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