ROCK FALLS – An economic development firm says there are nearly 40,000 customers in Rock Falls’ consumer base, and it wants to help the city tap into them.
The City Council heard a sales pitch Tuesday from Justin Lindsey with Retail Strategies, a Birmingham, Alabama-based firm development consulting firm, 2 weeks after the previous firm was dismissed.
The council voted May 1 to not renew a contract with Retail Attractions, an Owasso, Oklahoma-based group hired in April 2016. The council’s decision came after a development deal for 5.6 acres of property at the RB&W site, across from the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, collapsed when the company that had put in an offer for the land backed out, citing its involvement in too many projects.
“We just really felt we weren’t getting anything out of them.” Mayor Bill Wescott said at the May 1 meeting.
Lindsey cited partnerships between his firm and other area cities, among them Dubuque, Iowa, and Moline, where the firm was able to bring in a Dick’s Sporting Goods store.
Retail Strategies already has studied Rock Falls and gathered data to create a map of a custom trade area. Lindsey said the city has about 39,600 possible consumers in the area.
If the city enters into an agreement with the firm, the first 90 days would include a variety of analyses in order to find out “what can compliment the existing retail base,” Lindsey said.
Residents who want to sign up for the city’s high-speed fiber-optic network can now do it.
During broadband supervisor Wayne Shafer’s update on the Fibernet project, he said rockfallsfiber.net is up and running, and residents can sign up for service there.
The residential service areas are divided into fiberhoods, each containing about 250 homes. Buildouts will not be done in a fiberhood until 45 percent of prospective customers sign up for service. FiberNet’s residential side will likely come this fall, after service is provided to businesses in the areas of First Avenue and U.S. Route 30, as well as the Interstate 88 corridor.
Shafer said “we’re pretty far west on U.S. Route 30 right now” with the business corridor fiber installation, and that final plans are being made for installation along state Route 40.
A fond farewell
The council also expressed condolences to the family of former Rock Falls Fire Chief George Logan Sr., who died Monday at his home. He served for 35 years, 2 years paid-on-call and 33 full time, and retired as chief in 1988. First Ward alderman George Logan Jr., the chief’s son, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
“He constantly gave back to his community in so many ways, many of which people will never know about,” Wescott said of the elder Logan.
The council approved electric bonds not to exceed $9.2 million for replacement of the Avenue A electric substation, and bonds not to exceed $1.2 million for a water and sewer extension at 30 acres of property near state Route 40 and Interstate 88.
City among nation's top power providers
ROCK FALLS – The city's electric department has been ranked as one of the top public utilities nationwide.
The American Public Power Association upgraded the department's rating from gold to platinum as a Reliable Public Power Provider. The department is one of only four recipients of the award statewide.
The award was presented April 30 at the opening breakfast of the APPA Engineering and Operations Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Mayor Bill Wescott said the designation recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement.
Rock Falls also earned a certificate of excellence in reliability for outperforming the electric industry's national average, as reported by the Energy Information Administration.
The Rock Falls City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. June 5 at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St.
The agendas will be posted at rockfalls61071.net and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.
The council meeting also airs live on Channel 5 in the Twin Cities.