ROCHELLE — As a continuation on Rochelle’s rebranding project, the city is partnering with Western Illinois University in a “Mapping the Future of Your Community” program starting in September.
“Rochelle Revved Up!” is a new community-wide campaign geared at creating involvement of residents to not only identify a vision for the future of the city but to also help execute a plan to achieve the goals.
“We have seen many exciting changes over the past few years,” said Jenny Thompson, City of Rochelle marketing and public relations manager. “We have a renewed excitement with community events, new downtown businesses, new wayfinding signage, downtown lights with banners and new murals and now we want to take things to the next level.”
During Monday night’s Rochelle City Council meeting Gisele Hamm, of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, gave council members an overview of the WIU program and how it has helped many smaller rural communities plan and implement improvement strategies.
Some other Illinois communities in the region that have participated in the program include Durand, Elizabeth, Erie, Oregon, Savanna, Stockton and Walnut to name a few.
“We worked with the Oregon community on the Mapping and in the past couple of years they have had many exciting results and accomplishments,” Hamm said. “This program was created in 1991 and basically MAPP stands for Management And Planning Programs.”
Hamm said they have worked in more than 130 communities with populations ranging from as small as 300 to as large as 18,000.
“We understand the challenges facing small communities, such as competition for retail and declining downtowns, a shift from manufacturing to lower paying service jobs, youth outmigration and aging population, difficulty recruiting and maintaining strong leadership, inadequate financing for development efforts and aging infrastructure.,” Hamm stated. “You may not have all of these issues, but our program can certainly help you identify your strengths and help you build on the plans that were created when Roger Brooks was here a few years ago to kick off your rebranding project.”
Thompson said the “Rochelle Revved Up!” project is set to kick off on Tuesday, Sept. 10 with the first of five community meeting sessions where all residents are encouraged to attend and plot out Rochelle’s future development.
“We are asking interested citizens to join us for five community meetings where will discuss where we are now and where we want to be and how we are going to get there,” Thompson said after the meeting. “During these sessions, we will identify three to six high priority goals for the community, along with an action plan for making them happen.”
Thompson said volunteers will break into groups according to their interests and being working on goals and projects. A community-wide town meeting will take place where our ideas and projects will be shared and more participation will be encouraged.
All of the five sessions (Sept. 10, 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8) will be held at Hicks Hall, located at 709 Fourth Ave., from 6-9 p.m. Food will be served at each of the sessions, so attendees must RSVP to Thompson by calling 815-561-2006 or by email at [email protected].
“With the help of WIU, this process is going to give us direction on how to define goals and strategies and how to generate and maintain the momentum to complete them as we work to continue improving the quality of life here in Rochelle,” Thompson said.