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Chamber Overview

Commerce ImageThe Mission of the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce is to promote the growth and prosperity of our members and business community by providing a positive environment through a partnership with our volunteers, staff, business, education and government.

The Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce is comprised of volunteers from business, industry and the professions. These individuals have the common goal of fostering an environment that promotes business and industry while maintaining a standard of living to be enjoyed by all our residents.

Our membership is county wide and growing as rapidly as our area. This is an exciting time in Belvidere and Boone County-with our exceptional growth comes great change and expansion. Yet we still enjoy the wonderful small town friendliness and rural atmosphere where people like to do business with people that they know. And what a better place to get acquainted with people, products and services than through the Chamber !

Chamber member businesses strive to provide the highest quality of products and services at competitive prices. They also help to support our community through the many programs and events sponsored by the Chamber, including our Greeter Service for new residents. Another project was the creation of this community map to be used for your information and convenience. We would like to thank all the participating businesses who made this map possible through their advertisements and those that are committed to making Belvidere and Boone County the "The Right Place" to live, work and do business.

For more information on our community and the Chamber of Commerce call (815) 544-4357 or write us at 419 South State Street, Belvidere, IL 61008.

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Community Introduction

Into. Image

Following the Blackhawk War of 1832, Boone County - the ancestral home of the Potawatomi Indians-was settled by Euro-Americans in the summer of 1835. Due to the natural interspersion of forest and prairie which made the area such an enticing place to live, the area was initially named "Elysian Fields". Later, the name of this first settlement of 37 residents was changed to Belvidere, which means "beautiful to view".

Situated on the banks of the Kishwaukee River, the little village soon had a hotel, a blacksmith, several homes, some shops and a church. With the advent of the railroad in 1852, the town and country began to prosper. In 1858 there were 2,500 inhabitants in Belvidere alone, along with three flour mills, four banks, 40 stores, five hotels, two public schools and a couple of private academies.

Today, Boone County is the second fastest growing county in the State of Illinois, with a 15 percent-plus growth rate since 1990. Belvidere, the county seat, boasts a population of 18,421 (1996), with over 36,000 residents in the entire county.

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Location & Transportion

Location & Transportation Image

Boone County is strategically located in northern Illinois, just minutes east of Rockford, the second largest city in the state. Only an hour away from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, we are also within a few hours driving time of many other major midwest cities, including Milwaukee, Madison, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Des Moines and Indianapolis.

The area is served by extensive interstate highways, including I-90 and I-39, the major east/west and north/south routes in the state. In addition, U.S. Route 20, I-43 and I-88 are within easy access. Over 70 motor freight companies are based in the Rockford/Belvidere area. Belvidere is also served by the Union Pacific Railroad, with many other major U.S. carriers located within 50 miles.

Local air service is provided at the Greater Rockford Airport located just 15 miles to the west. This facility offers passenger and freight service to international airports and other cities as well as being a regional air hub for United Parcel Service. In addition, the Poplar Grove Airport is located within Boone County just 5 miles north of Belvidere.

Combine this easy access to major urban centers with a blend of rural charm and hometown friendliness, and you have an ideal place to live, work and do business. Besides the City of Belvidere, the area also includes the peaceful communities of Poplar Grove, Capron, Garden Prairie, Caledonia, Timberlane and Candlewick Lake.

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Business & Industry

Business ImageBelvidere and Boone County is the home to many major industries, including Chrysler Corporation, Pillsbury Green Giant, Dean Foods, Camcar Textron, Belvedere Company and Champion International. A combined labor force within the local Rockford MSA of over 195,000 fulfills the requirements of the various companies located in the area as well as those looking to locate here. Numerous incentives for attraction and retention of business are offered locally including the Belvidere-Boone County Enterprise Zone and a downtown tax increment financing district.

A comprehensive land use plan provides the guide to new development and growth within Boone County while preserving the prime agricultural land still prevalent within the area. Farming and ag services provide over 6.5% of the employment opportunities locally.

The increased growth in the county has also added to local retail opportunities. Eight major shopping areas can be found in Belvidere alone, including the Southtowne Shopping Center, Big Thunder Village and the Riverside Plaza. These areas, in combination with the downtown business district and its mix of specialty shops and retailers, provide local residents with access to a wide variety of goods and services. Additional retail development is planned in Poplar Grove, Capron and in the West Hills Area just west of Belvidere.

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Homes, Churches & Communities

Home ImageNo matter what type of home you are looking for, you will find it in Boone County. Our local communities offer everything from beautiful Victorian homes to spacious new condos. You can even move into a "fly-in community" where the lots have taxi way access for your own airplane! Numerous subdivisions are located throughout the area with excellent access to local shopping, schools and employment. The spiritual needs of the community are served by over 28 churches representing 15 denominations.

Home Image

Abeautiful blending of old and new, the Ida Public Library offers over 68,000 volumes as well as video and cassette tapes, large print books, records and art prints. Public meeting rooms, inter-library loan services and a summer reading program are also available.

Belvidere has one locally owned, daily (Monday - Saturday) newspaper, the Belvidere Daily Republican. The Rockford Register Star also provides daily service to Boone County residents.

The Boone County Community Building located in downtown Belvidere is available to the public for recreational, cultural and trade show events, receptions and other gatherings. Free open gym time is also offered. Future renovations of the facility include plans for shower facilities and a catering kitchen for use by the public.

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Recreation

Recreation Image

The Boone County area has an ample supply of recreational facilities and opportunities for local residents.

The Boone County Conservation District, the first such district in the state, administers and maintains over 14,000 acres for hiking, biking, picnicking and nature study. Included are the Kishwaukee Bottoms west of Belvidere, Flora Prairie, O.O. Stimes Memorial Park and the Kinnikinick Creek Conservation Area. The district hosts many cultural activities and nature programs throughout the year and also maintains a collection of log cabins.

The 14.2 mile asphalt Long Prairie Trail, located on the abandoned CNW rail line, bisects the county from east to west. The trail, which goes through the village of Poplar Grove, can be used for hiking or biking and is accessible to disabled individuals.

The BelvRecreation Imageidere Township Park District offers a wide variety of facilities and programs for the community. Belvidere Park, which covers 78 acres located at Stone Quarry Road and Lincoln Avenue, has 6 shelters, public restrooms, tennis courts, sand volleyball and basketball courts, ball diamonds, playground equipment, an accessible fishing pier and a swinging bridge. Also in the park is the William Grady Pool, one of the best outdoor pools in the area. The Baltic Mill, home to the Boone County Arts Council, has recently been renovated and a new stage area constructed outside for the "Concerts in the Park" program. One of the few public boat launches in the county is also located in the park and a new canoe launch has recently been completed.

The Kishwaukee Riverfront Path is also located in Belvidere Park and extends easterly along the Kishwaukee River to a pedestrian bridge over the river to Doty Park and on to downtown Belvidere. Currently 2.1 miles in length, extension of the path is planned for the future through the continued efforts of the Riverfront Development Committee (a committee of Growth Dimensions, the local economic development organization).

Belvidere Park District also includes Doty Park (in downtown Belvidere), Harkless Park, and Aberdeen Park (which is currently the site for the Belvidere High School soccer team). Amenities including shelters and playground equipment are available at each site. In addition, the Park District offers numerous recreational programs and events, including a preschool program and after school activities for children and adults.

The Capron Lions Park (7 acres) and the Poplar Grove Lions Park (20 acres) provide recreational opportunities in the northern part of the county. Rock Cut State Park (3,092 acres) is close by, offering two lakes, fishing, boating, 275 campsites, hiking trails, snowmobiling, swimming and horseback riding.

Other community recreational facilities include 3 golf courses, a driving range, 3 campgrounds, 2 bowling alleys and the local Belvidere Family YMCA, which offers a heated, indoor pool, sauna, conditioning and free weights fitness center, gymnasium, and various classes and recreational leagues for adults and youth.

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Education

Education Image

Boone County is served by two school districts, both of which exemplify the best in public education. Area students consistently place in the top ten percent nationally in academic and pre-college entrance exams.

Belvidere School District #100 covers 160 square miles with a current enrollment of over 5,600 students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade. This includes 6 elementary schools (K-6), one junior high school and one senior high school. The Board of Education is comprised of seven community members elected to four year terms of office and who serve without compensation.

North Boone School District #200 serves the northern part of the county including Capron and Poplar Grove. Current enrollment is more than 1,000 students, with 3 elementary schools (K-8) and one senior high school.

The Boone County Special Education Cooperative serves students in both districts from ages 3 through 21.The county also has 4 parochial schools for students in grades K-12 (offerings vary by school).

Opportunities for continuing education include Rock Valley College, offering a state accredited two-year degree program and ongoing adult education. Rock Valley also offers technical training and programs at the Technology Center located on campus. Rockford College, a four-year private institution, offers bachelor and graduate degrees, education and non-credit seminars and opportunities for study abroad through Regents College in London.

Northern Illinois University, the second largest university in Illinois, is located just south of Boone County in DeKalb, IL. In 1995, the university opened the Rockford Education Center just minutes away, offering a variety of graduate level and select undergraduate level classes during the evenings and serving as a full service training facility during the day.

The University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford offers over 50 programs in health and medicine, as well as providing community health care programs. Engineering students can also participate in graduate programs in various areas held on the campus through Tutored Videotape Instruction (TVI).

The University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service provides educational programs relating to horticulture and the environment; economic, community and leadership development; family and youth; 4-H programs; and agriculture production. The Extension Office located in Belvidere serves Boone County with all U of I resources available to individuals, organizations and local communities.

Additionally, a variety of vocational schools including Rockford Business College offer classes and degrees to local students, maintaining a reputation of quality education within the community.

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Health Care

Health Care Image

The Boone County area is served locally and regionally by exceptional healthcare facilities. OSF St. Joseph Hospital in Belvidere is a 76 bed full service hospital, offering a 24 hour physician staffed emergency department, an Express Care walk in facility and hospital based Lifeline Ambulance. Northwest Suburban Community Hospital in Belvidere offers a walk-in Immediate Care Clinic, Medical/Surgical Unit, Skilled Care Unit, Physical Therapy, Laboratory, Radiology and Outpatient Services. In addition, the Bariatric Treatment Center (part of the hospital) is dedicated to meeting the needs of the seriously overweight through a specialty medical program that provides surgical solutions for long-term weight loss.

OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, located on the east side of Rockford, is a 254-bed Level I trauma center facility, including the Regional Burn Unit, Regional Heart Institute, the Illinois Neuroscience Institute and the new Center for Cancer Care. This teaching hospital is also the site of the Northern Illinois Mobile Intensive Care Program and a bachelor's degree college of nursing and school of medical technology.

Rockford Heath System/Rockford Memorial Hospital, also a Level I Trauma Center, is a 254-bed, full service hospital offering many specialty programs including the REACT Medical helicopter, Regional Dialysis Center and Neonatal/Pediatric Intensive Care Units and ASK-A-NURSE, a 24 hour health information and referral service.

Swedish American Hospital/Swedish American Health System is recognized nationally for excellence in cardiovascular medicine, cancer treatment, psychiatry and mental health and various other areas. The hospital itself is a major acute care facility with the busiest local emergency room in the area.

Various walk-in/immediate care clinics are also available locally. Riverview Medical Group, the Shappert Primary Care Clinic and the Belvidere Clinic are all situated within Belvidere.

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Events ImageA commitment and dedication to the arts is a definite plus in Boone County. With our central location, we have access to cultural activities and events just a little over an hour away in downtown Chicago and just minutes away in Rockford. New American Theater in Rockford is nationally known for its quality professional theater productions and Starlight Theatre (Rock Valley College) is the longest continuously operating outdoor summer theater in the region.

Locally, the Boone County Arts Council provides the annual "Concerts in the Park" program and sponsors various other cultural events in the community. The Main Street Players Theatre Group performs outstanding stage plays on a continual basis at the Boone County Community Building. The Belvidere Women's Club holds its annual art show each June in Big Thunder Park. And that's only the beginning...

Various festivals are held annually including the Blaine Folk Festival (June), the Strawberry Folk Festival in Garden Prairie (June), Heritage Days/4th of July Celebration, and the Autumn Pioneer Festival and Oktoberfest (both in September). In addition, the annual Hometown Christmas celebration, sponsored by the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce and held the first weekend of December, has become a family tradition in Boone County for over 10 years.

Other local attractions include Fiorello's Pumpkin Patch, Edward's Apple Orchard, Lane's Country Market, the Boone County Historical Society Museum (with 2 locations), the Petitt Memorial Chapel located in Belvidere Cemetery (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) and Aunt Sally's Everlasting's, a unique experience in "picking your own bouquet". The area is alive with activities and events throughout the year for everyone to enjoy!!!

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The City of Murals

Murals Image

In June of 1997, Belvidere was host to the 1997 International Letterheads Meet and became the proud owner of 10 historic wall murals in the downtown area. The Letterheads, an internationally known organization of artists and others dedicated to the lost art of sign painting, made their mark on the community and transformed the downtown into a mecca for muralists and tourists throughout the nation. Over 250 artists painted the murals in just one weekend but the memories and friendships they left behind will last a lifetime.

The quality and beauty of the murals, as well as the sheer number done at one time, were all the qualifications necessary for Governor Jim Edgar to designate Belvidere to be the "City of Murals" for the State of Illinois in September 1997. Just one month later, the city also was awarded the 1997 Governor's Community Award for the Arts by the Illinois Arts Council. And in February, 1998, the mural project was given the Governor's Award from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism - the "Oscar" of the Illinois tourism industry. This designation has brought overwhelming recognition to our community and is the basis of support from various groups to continue the process of creating more murals on an annual basis.

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Government

Government Image

Boone County, The Boone County Board is made up of 12 elected members serving 4-year# terms of office. Within the county, there are 16 full time officers with the Sheriff's Department and 5 rural Fire Protection Districts staffed by volunteers.

City of Belvidere, The city has a mayor/city council form of government. The council is composed of 10 aldermen, two from each of five wards, all elected to 4 year terms. There are 29 full time policemen and 22 full time firemen serving the city.

Villages of Poplar Grove, Capron, Caledonia and Timberlane, These communities have a President/Village Trustee form of government. Police protection is provided/contracted by the Boone County Sheriff's Department and fire protection is provided by the Boone County Rural Fire Protection Districts (5 in the county).

Boone County also is covered by an Emergency 911 Telephone System.

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