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Corporate Responsibility
The History of Building Rockford

The history of real estate development in Rockford is the history of First Midwest Group. We have increased the depth of our community and the options available to it. For more than 35 years, we have taken unused land and buildings and created places people love to shop, eat, work, and play. From Volcano Falls to industrial buildings, there is little First Midwest Group has not aided in the development of.

(RRStar, Feb 22, 2015, Lindsey Holden)-Rockford leaders gathered Sunday to discuss how the city’s east side became the economic hub it is.


Former Mayor John McNamara, First Midwest Group President Sunil Puri, former Rock Valley Community College President Karl Jacobs and Rockford Planning Administrator Wayne Dust gathered at Midway Village Museum to discuss the impact of nearly 50 years of growth.

McNamara and his wife arrived in Rockford in 1966, when “there was hardly anything east of Alpine, aside from a new Saint Anthony Hospital.”


Now, much of everything east of Alpine Road is home to 84 percent of development, Puri said.

“We definitely needed to protect our future as far as retail development in the city,” Dust said, in regard to investing in commercial business. But the development hasn’t been even, something Puri said has to do with the loss of key corporate headquarters, including aerospace manufacturer Sundstrand, which was founded here in 1926 and moved to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, in 1999 when it was acquired by United Technologies Corp.


“Nobody’s stepped up to bat for those type of (corporations), and I think that’s had a huge impact on the haphazard nature of things that have happened,” Puri said.


When talk turned to the effect Rockford’s uneven expansion had on the less-developed areas of the city, Jacobs pointed out that minorities had largely been excluded from this growth.


“I think what we had in Rockford was ... a de facto containment policy — economically, socially, politically — of minorities,” he said. “Unless people live in confidence with each other, you can’t expect viable economic development.”

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