Rockford may be relatively small, but the city contends that its big living is what makes it stand out. Like a lot of American Midwest cities, change is in the air for a place that once relied heavily in manufacturing, but is now finding a new place of importance in technology.
The city was founded in 1834 as a place that was the midpoint between Chicago and the then busy town of Galena, Ill., according to the city’s Web site. The area was known as Midway until 1837 when the name was changed to Rock Ford.
When the turn of the century rolled around, Rockford was seen as an industrial and manufacturing hub. It specialized in producing machine tools, furniture, agricultural equipment and more.
However, after World War II, the city lost a lot of its manufacturing business, with many of its core industries nearly eviscerated by the 1960s. Rockford’s unemployment skyrocketed by the 80s, but has seen a renewed growth recently due to more companies offering professional and business services as well as the development of new high-tech businesses.
Currently, it is still an important manufacturing town being located in an area with 1,400 companies making, among many things, precision cutting tools, fasteners and aerospace components, according to the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Web site.
Rockford has an estimated population of 155,138, making it the third-largest city in Illinois, according to a 2006 estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau.
With its nickname, “Forest City,” Rockford would not be a city expected to have attainment issues. In fact, that is correct; the Environmental Protection Agency lists the city’s air quality as good.
The state of Illinois leads the Midwest in crude oil refining capacity, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Web site, with four refineries. Crude oil refinery capacity is at 903,600 barrels per calendar day, which makes up 5.2 percent of the nation’s refining capacity. However, crude oil production in Illinois, once a top oil-producing state, is relatively little. The state only produced 823 thousand barrels per day in 2007.
The ethanol refining capacity in the state ranks second in the U.S., only behind Iowa. The state of Illinois uses its large corn crops to make the ethanol, which is then shipped to markets all over the country.
The latest EIA data has the total petroleum consumption for Illinois at 275,698 thousand barrels, which is 3.6 percent of the nation’s consumption. Motor gasoline consumption for the state is 124,646 thousand barrels. There are 5,100 gasoline stations in Illinois.
EIA information shows regular motor gasoline sold through retail outlets was $2.49 per gallon for 2007, not including taxes.