By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
Get our newsletter
ROCKFORD — With temperatures in the teens and snow flurries flying, Friday’s typical northern Illinois February day may not seem like an ideal opportunity to attract investors from South America to the city.
But, for a local real estate investment company and the Rockford Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, there’s beauty to showcase here in all seasons.
Business for Life, a real estate investment firm headquartered on East State Street, hosted 10 investors from Colombia for a workshop on Friday. The main purpose was to close on the purchase of a multifamily residence on Middlebury Avenue, but company CEO Saul Serna also invites people to explore Rockford as a place to invest and live.
Some of the group here on Friday have obtained their investor Visa and are planning to move here, he said.
“We have all these people with talent, with a desire to migrate to the United States, with resources, that I think if we can bring all that diversity to our town it will be better for everyone,” Serna said. “Everybody flies to Miami, New York, Chicago, but what about Rockford?”
“There’s only one life to live, why not live it in Rockford?”
The firm partners with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and Rockford Park District to show off what the city has to offer. On Friday, that meant taking the visitors — some of whom had never seen snow — sliding down the Snow Park at Alpine Hills, 4402 Larson Ave.
“We try to highlight the beauty of Rockford,” said Sully Cadengo, president of the Rockford Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “It’s also beautiful for us to experience it from a newcomer’s perspective.”
“You would think that people from Colombia wouldn’t fall in love with our parks, but they’re like ‘oh my gosh these are some of the most beautiful parks I’ve seen,” she said.
(story continues below photos)
Business for Life holds a handful of similar investment workshops here each year. It uses its connections in offices in Spain and Colombia to attract potential investors here for real estate opportunities. They held the first in October, Serna said, and another is planned for March. The company is also hosting a workshop in Colombia later this month with hopes of attracting more people here.
“They’re coming every season, so even us as longtime residents we get to re-enjoy what we kind of forgot was here,” Cadengo said. “We don’t realize how valuable Rockford is.”
The groups can include engineers, doctors and business owners. Cadengo helps highlight the opportunities for those who choose to relocate here, from employment to education and recreation. The later of which how the crew ended up at the Snow Park.
“I think we take for granted what we have, until somebody comes from the outside and makes it fun again for you,” Serna said. “If we can fall in love with our city again … we can really transform this place.”