CFNIL Receives Business is Blooming Award

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is honored to receive a Business is Blooming award from the Rockford Area Convention & Vistors Bureau (RACVB). The award is given to businesses and organizations that make our region a more beautiful place with the care they put into their storefronts and surroundings. A news release describing the award and awardees is below.

Special thanks to Gloria Lundin, CFNIL’s former president, who led the charge to preserve the Stone House at 946 N. Second Street and turn it into CFNIL’s home office; CFNIL’s past Board of Trustees, who supported Gloria’s vision; the many donors who contributed to the home’s renovation; and our very own LuAnn Groh, who manages the home with great care.

Thanks RACVB! It is an honor.


The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) announced today a new pilot program to further build on the Forest City Beautiful efforts aimed to beautify the Rockford region. Business is Blooming exists to build a culture of community involvement and visually appealing environments for our city. The program supports and acknowledges the positive values and efforts displayed by our business owners to make Rockford a beautiful and enjoyable place to live, work and play. Rewarding activity that strengthens civic pride is one of the vital links to long-term success in the Rockford region.

A team of judges visited the exterior grounds of selected businesses in the River District Association, Midtown District and Coronado Haskell Neighborhood Association to be considered for this designation. Out of 23 businesses, six were chosen in select categories: Small Business (1-10 employees) The Loc Shop and Community Foundation of Northern Illinois; Large Business (26+ employees) Holmstrom & Kennedy; Restaurant Outdoor Dining Abreo and Prairie Street Brewing Company (tied) and Special Recognition Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza.

Judging is based on the following criteria:

  • Well-maintained landscaping – trimmed and weed-free
  • No litter around entire perimeter (fence line, tree line, sidewalk, parking lot)
  • Well-maintained façade, and graffiti-free exteriors
  • Well-maintained hardscape – lighting, benches, walkways, signage, fences, etc.
  • WOW factor – impressive overall first impression or impact
  • Overall cleanliness
  • Neat, tidy walkways and parking lot
  • Clean windows
  • Attractiveness, e.g. flowers, plants, fresh paint, etc.
  • Inviting signage
  • Creative exterior, e.g. colors, design, signage
  • Exterior music, if applicable

Winners receive a prize package including a trophy, window cling, and online promotions valued at $1,850. The 2017 program recognizes “Businesses of Distinction” to serve as models for the contest that will take place in 2018.

“Our hope is that this program will inspire business owners, operators and property owners to think about the ways they can participate in the coming years. This is an opportunity for all of us to be mindful of the ways each business can make a difference in their interiors, facades and landscapes,” said Tana Vettore, RACVB director of destination development. “The Businesses of Distinction that we honored today have already invested in this concept of beautification and are excellent models within our community. They have taken their standard to the next level by incorporating elements like parklets, beautiful outdoor patios and appealing landscapes.”

This multi-year program aims to develop and maintain a partnership among RACVB, businesses, neighborhood advocacy groups, schools, non-profit organizations, volunteer groups, etc. to share in the vision and maintenance of this program. As a result, they will serve as exemplary models to inspire more people to do the same. The program will recognize and incentivize businesses, organizations and property owners to improve the landscaping and facades of their building and properties; promote the goal of year-round activity/maintenance such as proper snow removal at businesses for customer access as well as lush summer landscapes and weed-free, litter-free environments; and select and reward outstanding or innovative beautification achievements.

“We are honored to be named one of the businesses of distinction for this new program. Our team continuously brainstorms ways to improve the customer experience in – and outside of – the restaurant,” said Joe D’Astice, Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza owner. “The parklets outside of our space are definitely more visually appealing and create an inviting atmosphere with more seating options for our customers. Being that we’re surrounded by other local downtown businesses these types of outdoor features encourage people to come out, sit in an open-air casual dining experience and, most of all, stay awhile.” 

Long-term, the goal is for the program to expand city-wide. In the pilot year it is focused on the central city. The 2018 program is in a contest format, with judging in July. Business owners are encouraged to visit to get more information about the program and to register to participate.