Regional partnerships have evolved as an important ingredient in growing the economy in this part of northern Illinois.

One of the many regional organizations emerging over the years within the municipalities of Machesney Park, Loves, Roscoe, Rockton and South Beloit is the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (RACVB).

It is a private, non-profit organization that was formed in 1984. Its mission is “to promote and champion efforts to make the Rockford Region an overnight visitor destination.”

Machesney Park is one of the many partners, and its annual investment in efforts of the Bureau is $5,000.

On Sept. 21, two officials of the RACVB, John Groh, president and chief executive officer, and Nick Povalitis, vice president of marketing and sports development, appeared remotely before the village board to update Mayor Steve Johnson and trustees on its continued work to grow economic development here and in the region.

Bureau staff is divided into four teams that, among other things, work to bring conventions, tournaments and events to the region.

Povalitis talked about sporting events brought to Harlem High School and the community.

There was the Special Olympics Fall Games, which is based in Springfield, and the AAU Rockin’ Volleyball in 2020-21, which he said would touch Harlem High School and the Machesney Park community. The contact for the volleyball event is based in suburban Antioch.

The Illinois State Middle School Basketball Championships is part of the national middle school championships, based in Phoenix, AZ, and Bend, OR, he continued.

“That’s an event operator we met at a trade show a couple of years ago,” Povalitis said of the middle school event which has come into our community for three or four straight years, and we’re excited to welcome them back.”

Cash outlay for those events, he said, was $15,000, but that didn’t include all the time and effort of the Bureau’s sales and marketing side, which attends trade shows and conducts site visits.

Go Rockford.Com receives about 600,000 visits a year, he said. Email blast contacts amount to about 20,000; and social media followings are at about 50,000. “We’re proud of the work we do for Machesney Park and want to do better,” he said.

Recently, he said he had been meeting with Mayor Johnson and Acting Village Administrator – Community Development Director James Richter II, about building that partnership “and we are excited about what the future holds.”


At the conclusion of the presentation, trustees James Kidd and Jake Schmidt had some questions.

Kidd asked how many events were brought to Machesney Park during the 2019-20 fiscal year?

Povalitis said he didn’t have that number handy; Groh replied that the sports events mentioned earlier, which were held at the high school and in the community, were just a representative sample of what’s happening locally.

Kidd wondered how much money was being spent in Machesney Park by visitors to local events and those held nearby.

“Given visitors don’t see community lines it’s difficult to segment what’s being spent in Machesney Park, versus Rockford, versus Rockton,” Groh replied. “We know people tend to localize their spending near an event. They’re often time pressed so they go to restaurants nearby, or shopping nearby.”

Those attending an event at Harlem Community Center or the high school would be eating and shopping along Route 173, he said.

Schmidt asked about the RACVB’s involvement in bringing the aforementioned events to Machesney Park?

Povalitis said the state basketball tournament coming here was a result of contacts made by the Bureau at a trade show. An official of the Phoenix, AZ-based organization flew here in 2017 for a site visit. He looked at Rockford Public Schools facilities, Harlem and Boylan, ultimately choosing Harlem because of its competitive rate structure and the relationship he had been building over the last year with that school’s athletic department.

And when he was asked how many local events came here primarily because of the RACVB, he replied, “Two for sure, 100 percent.”

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