Trailblazers are the pioneers, innovators, and lifelong learners who will help to make the world a better place, by propelling the future of downtown, and are giving back to our community. These are the folks that are innovating, using their spirt and agility to transform Rockford.

They inspire all others with their constant innovation, by transforming the customer experience, by growing their businesses and by making the community a better place.

The meaning we give to these entrepreneurs to ‘blaze a trail’ of business – is someone forging ahead and clearing a path for others in our community. These Downtown Trailblazers don’t just see a need in the market — they have created new markets, and they forge their own paths to get where their outsized visions tell them they need to go. They’re locally-minded since many of the founders are usually native to the community. They’re also dependent on the local economy since they operate exclusively within a specific geographic range as is the case of our downtown entrepreneurs.



The local and family-owned businesses will directly profit from the foot traffic that the downtown casino and entertainment district has to offer. J.R. Kortman Center for Design, Taco Betty’s, Octane, Arch Apothecary, The Collectors Bench, and the Rockford Art Deli, alongside dozens of other local and family-owned businesses, are the key beneficiaries that the casino and entertainment district will directly impact. On East State near I-90, the local and family-owned businesses are relativity scarce by comparison. Current East state franchised restaurants and other multi-billion-dollar franchises would eat up potential profit that the local and family-owned businesses are seeking.

These smaller downtown businesses help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations. What really, really, drives our U.S. economy? No, it is not war. It is small business by providing jobs for over half of the nation’s private workforce.*


The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

― Peter F. Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship:




A multitude of significant Investments have been made in the downtown quadrant of the City of Rockford which makes up in part the South to North Main Street Corridor. The downtown has realized significant infrastructure improvements by the City of Rockford, Winnebago County and the State of Illinois. Local, regional and national companies as well as our communities’ non- profits are located here.

The Rock River West Casino Group envisions that this project location will definitively grow more entertainment events for the BMO Harris Bank Center, Coronado Theater and Davis Park with restaurants, new retail, new hotel, additional entertainment attractions in and around the South Main Corridor and the overall River District.



Our downtown’s story reads something like a hero’s journey – a place that was once the central business district that lost its business boom but is now rising again.

Placing the Urban Casino Business Model in the downtown area would act as a catalyst to an area that is already on the rise. By combining elements of New Urbanism, city planners, casino operators and developers can integrate a casino development into the fabric of the urban riverfront. This happens in such a way that the downtown casino becomes an integral element in the commercial activity of the community. In just one example, the proposal provides partnership with the entire downtown and businesses for the co-promotion of the downtown and by providing complimentary meals and drinks in local establishments paid for by the casino.



When a round pebble is dropped into a calm pond, it causes ripples in the form of concentric circles. Similar to the pebble, the urban casino is the stone and the pond is the downtown entertainment district. The concentric circles are the economic impacts that can be forecasted with similar effects of the pebble hitting the still water. This impact will affect downtown retailers, industry, offices, and service providers, and not just in the immediate area but will ripple throughout the South Side, Southwest, and Westside, as well as the North Main corridor. As the pebble in a pond creates waves across the water, the urban casino investment will move broadly out into our community with greater impact. The concentric circles will create flow out from the center and have a harmonizing unity to their shape as the economic influence spreads though out Rockford, but the power, the very source of that impact, comes from a singular common origin which in this case is the economic engine called the Waterpower Entertainment District.




These concentric circles rippling out from the locus point of where the pebble hit the water will bring new entrepreneurs, new franchises, new corporate entities, to say the least, pointing the way to a new future for our city, county, the whole of the Rock River Valley. This hypothesis is not theoretical, it is a proven economic engine that is proved repeatedly through the distribution, and consumption of goods and services of a regional economy. It also has a direct correlation to employment and increased incomes in our community. From a straightforward Macro/Micro economic point of view, all the supply and demand across our region will be impacted for the better. There is no single perfect method to estimate the economic impacts that the Urban Casino at the Waterpower Entertainment District will have on our community or our region, however, like the pebble hitting the water and creating the concentric circles, it will happen.

1. The Illinois bill calls for the maximum economic impact and jobs potential.

  1. Our casino proposal provides more jobs due to the creation of the entertainment district as well as the moving of Piranha Fab.
  2. Our casino creates greater economic impact and teases us up for the potential redevelopment of Barbara Coleman and the railyards across the street.
  3. Our casino proposal is leveraging the investments our city, county and private sector have made in our downtown.
  4. Our casino will not compete against the Coronado or BMO Harris center by having a large music venue on site. It will enter into an agreement to co-promote the RAVE venues to drive tourism and entertainment revenue.
  5. This proposal provides a partnership with the entire downtown and businesses for the co-promotion of the downtown, southside and westside by providing complimentary meals and drinks in local establishments, paid for by the casino.


*Census Bureau data shows that American small businesses accounted for: 99.7% of U.S. employer firms;

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