Progressive West Rockford President Reverend Earl Dotson Sr. is spearheading a community effort to revamp the Rockford’s West side.
“There’s a lot of dysfunction on the West side of Rockford and it’s a thing that is harmful to the community,” said Dotson. “And we feel that Progressive West Rockford can address this.”
Dotson says issues like crime and unemployment can be fixed by creating opportunities for residents.
He unveiled some of his ideas to the community during a presentation at the Zeke Giorgi building downtown.
Those ideas include attracting specific types of businesses that aren’t on the west side.
Such as a fitness center, a mall, or an outdoor market.
“It will address some of the issues that are prevalent on the West side,” said Dotson. “One of them being poverty, and the crime, and we think that a lot of this, we’re convinced is driven by a lack of economic development.”
Judson university in Elgin helped with the development plan.
Architecture students used skills they learned in class in the hopes of preparing them for their careers.
“We want to train our students to use their talents that they’re learning in graduate school to improve the communities around them,” said one of Judson’s architecture professors, Christopher Lauriat.
They say it’s one way they’re able to help the Rockford community.
“It’s very useful to them to have to grapple with real life issues,” said Lauriat. “To deal with real places, real people and we think it’s vital to their education that they have that community experience.”
Dotson says it shows them they’re just as serious about helping them develop the west side.
“That’s just the start,” said Dotson. “That’s just the start.”