ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) – The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau(RACVB) and The Belvidere Chamber of Commerce held the first of a series of events going over the results of a survey. A survey answered by more than 2,0000 citizens aimed at bettering Winnebago and Boone Counties.

“Part of a plan that will develop a destination master plan that guides tourism development and quality of life enhancement work over the next ten years,” said John Groh, the President of the RACVB.

The two counties received funding thanks to competitive grants from the US and Illinois Departments of Commerce.

“One of the things that we heard loud and clear was that there is broad support for tourism, that our residents understand the value of visitors coming here and spending their money, which translates to a better economy and a higher quality of life. And so that’s a first sort of bedrock position that we’re starting from,” Groh said.

“Where we’ll be able to hear community voices because, again, that’s what we’re responding to that we were working for. And who were trying to benefit from this experience,” said Shelton Kay a member of the RACVB board of trustees. “I want to make sure that they really look at diversity because I think that’s something that’s really important. I think that’s important for our community and that draws in a lot of people.”

More than 67% of the community responded saying Rockford is a great place to live, especially for what it offers in nature.

“Abundant access to parks and outdoor recreation, to forest reserves and our rivers. Anything outdoor recreation came through loud and clear as a really important aspect from a place-to-live perspective as well as visitation,” Groh said.

Getting the community’s feedback Groh said was vital to the future of the plans.

“Both stakeholders who work in the hospitality and tourism industry as well as residents, elected officials, broader business community leadership, that there is a common vision and shared objectives and goals.”

Below are the times and locations for the next event.

Thursday, October 26, 8 – 10 a.m.
Radisson Hotel & Conference Center Rockford, 200 S. Bell School Rd., Rockford
Thursday, October 26, 5 – 7pm 
Rivers Edge Recreation Center, 1151 W. Locust St., Belvidere