Last weekend when I was back in Minneapolis my best friend Stephanie introduced me to people as "her friend from Illinois;" I was a little offended because I'm not from Illinois, I'm from Minnesota.

But it appears I'm going to be here for a while so I might as well embrace it, because why not? What do I have to be offended over? I have a great job, in a great city and I'm extremely proud of that.

Unfortunately, other Rockfordians can't say the same and now more than ever, people are leaving the Forest City for greener pastures.

According to the Rockford Register Star, Rockford may be number four in overall population in Illinois, but we're number one when it comes to population loss.

When you break it down by the numbers, of the 29,093 people who left Illinois from 2010 to 2016, 5,220 of them were from Rockford; that's an 18% of the total loss.

Rockford University professor, Bob Evans, tells the paper that its "lack of job diversification, distance from Chicago, and inability to attract and retain large numbers of young people" are major factors in why people are leaving.

Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO John Groh adds, and I think he brings up a great point and it's something we should remember, "The size of your city doesn’t necessarily dictate the greatness within or its potential. What do we do with what we have to make our community more attractive to new residents and retain residents? That’s the key question."

If you have an answer to that question, we'd love to hear your response. What more could Rockford do to attract new residents and keep current ones here?

Bonus Video

Catch Mandy James on “The Steve Shannon Show with Mandy James” on 97 ZOK from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Follow her on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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