Welcome to Belvidere!

It’s not often you find a place where you feel at home right away - but that’s exactly what you will find when you enter Boone County. Nestled amongst gently rolling farmland in north central Illinois, you will find everything you need to make that feeling come alive for you - a feeling of coming home to the best things in life!

Belvidere, the county seat, is a growing community with a small-town atmosphere. The outlying villages of Poplar Grove, Capron, Garden Prairie, Caledonia and Timberlane all welcome you with rural charm and a family atmosphere. Community and caring mean a lot to everyone who lives here, newcomers and life-long residents alike. Preserving our quality of life is of the utmost concern, and efforts to ensure that it continues far into the future are ongoing.

The Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce strives to promote our community by encouraging the growth and prosperity of our member businesses. Having a strong economic base made up of thriving commercial and industrial businesses provides stability and strength for the community to continue on its progressive path. We are here to serve our community and our region, now and in the future.

As such, the Chamber invites you to visit Belvidere and Boone County to see what we mean by that "Hometown Feeling." Once you feel it for yourself, you will want to be a part of this vibrant community that treasures its past and looks forward with anticipation to its future. Come experience and enjoy the wonderful feeling of coming home again!

Terri Gaby, Executive Director
Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce
(815) 544-4357 • (815) 547-7654 fax
e-mail: belvidere.net/chamber

 

Belvidere is the County Seat of Boone County, one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Illinois. The city offers an attractive mix of country charm and urban amenities.

Economic strength, quality educational systems, affordable real estate, and an abundance of recreation and leisure opportunities have contributed to Belvidere’s special status as a community characterized by high quality - and low cost - of living.

In Belvidere, residents still believe in old-fashioned concern for their neighbors. They are pleased to share their community with newcomers, and warmly welcome commercial and residential expansions. Take a look around this charming community, and you’ll quickly see why residents are so proud to call Belvidere home.

History

Situated on the banks of the Kishwaukee River, this small village of 37 settlers soon had several lumber mills, a hotel, blacksmith, many homes, retail stores and a church. The Baltic Mill, still standing in Belvidere Park, was erected in 1845. With the advent of rail travel in 1852, the town and surrounding areas quickly began to prosper. By 1858 there were 2,500 inhabitants in Belvidere, and the community was served by more than a dozen saw mills, three flour mills, four banks, 40 stores, five hotels, two public schools and a few private academies.

Having continued to grow and prosper through the years, Boone County today ranks as one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Illinois. The area’s growth rate has exceeded 15% annually since 1990. Today, Boone County boasts a population of more than 38,000, while still retaining its rural atmosphere and hometown charm.

Location - Easy Access

Belvidere is characterized by its natural beauty as well as convenient location, with easy access to interstate systems and proximity to major cities. Strategically located in northern Illinois, Boone County is just minutes away from Rockford, the second largest city in the state. Belvidere is located adjacent to I-90, the major east-west route from Chicago through Madison and Minneapolis. With close proximity to I-39, residents also have access to the major north-south route from Rockford to Bloomington. US Route 20, I-43, and I-88 are also easily accessible. As a result of this ideal location, the Belvidere area is home to more than 70 motor freight companies.

Residents of Belvidere are just an hour away from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and a number of the Midwest’s largest urban centers - including Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Minneapolis - are within a few hours driving distance. Belvidere is served by the Union Pacific Railroad, and other carriers are located in neighboring communities.

Local air travel service is available at the Greater Rockford Airport, just a few miles to the west of Belvidere.

This facility offers passenger and freight service to international airports and other cities. It also serves as a regional hub for United Parcel Service, and U.S. Customs Service is available here. Poplar Grove Airport, a full service fixed-base operation, is also located in Boone County, just five miles north of Belvidere.

The combination of easy access to major cities, the area’s rural charm and hometown friendliness all add up to form a quality of life that is exceptionally high for Belvidere’s residential and business community.

Shopping, Dining & Lodgeing

Shopping in Belvidere offers a little something for everyone with retail options in Belvidere and neighboring communities. The city is home to many unique shops, ranging from pottery studios to jewelers to doll merchants. Those who enjoy the hunt for valuable antiques will find numerous options in the Belvidere area’s numerous antique shops.

Along with the quaint downtown district, residents can also enjoy the area’s larger shopping centers and retail chains.

Eight major shopping areas exist in Belvidere alone, including the Southtowne Shopping Centre, Big Thunder Village and Riverside Plaza facilities. There are also many larger shopping centers just minutes away in Rockford.

Dining options in Belvidere range from fast food establishments to finer establishments and diners with home-style cooking. Residents also have access to a wide and diverse range of restaurants in bordering communities.

Those in need of lodging facilities in the Belvidere area can choose from options that range from economical motels to larger, more sophisticated hotel chains. Bed and breakfast inns and campgrounds are also local options for travelers.

Homes

People choose to live in Belvidere for a variety of reasons. Many are attracted to the area’s serenity and rural charm, others want some distance from the larger urban centers in Illinois, and still others simply find the cost of living in the Belvidere area attractive. Fortunately, the area satisfies each of these requirements.

The Belvidere area is characterized by a wide range of home styles, sizes and price ranges. The spacious and historic Victorian homes that line Belvidere’s quiet city streets are community favorites. Residents have many other housing options, ranging from homes in mature, established neighborhoods to those in new sub-divisions. A variety of spacious condominium and apartment complexes offer residents additional housing options, and Belvidere’s senior citizens are served by a variety of facilities designed to meet their needs.

Subdivisions in Belvidere offer residents convenient access to local shopping, schools and commercial businesses. The real estate offerings throughout the area reflect the area’s rich history as well as its current growth and expansion. New subdivisions with high quality homes are attractive to new residents, who quickly learn that their real estate dollar goes a long way in Belvidere.

The Arts & Entertainment

Belvidere and Boone County are serious about their dedication to the arts. In June of 1997, Belvidere hosted the International Letterheads Meet and was treated to 10 historic wall murals located in the historic downtown sector. The Letterheads, an internationally renowned organization of artists dedicated to the art of sign-painting, made their mark on the community and transformed the downtown into a showplace for muralists and tourists alike. That year, Governor Jim Edgar designated Belvidere the "City of Murals" for the State of Illinois, and Belvidere was also awarded the Governor’s Community Award for the Arts by the Illinois Arts Council. In February of 1998, the mural project received the Governor’s Award from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism - considered to be the "Oscar" of the Illinois tourism industry. This series of awards brought national recognition to the community of Belvidere, and the process of creating more murals has continued, with several more having been added each year.

There are many additional artistic and entertainment offerings in the area. For those who enjoy the performing arts, the Main Street Players Theatre Group stages high-quality dramatic productions on a continual basis at the Boone County Community Building. Historic local attractions include the Boone County Historical Society Museum and the Petitt Memorial Chapel.

Favorite annual events include artistic celebrations such as the Blaine Folk Festival, the Strawberry Festival and the Belvidere Women’s Club Art Show. The historic Baltic Mill - home to the Boone County Arts Council - offers a stage area for the popular "Concerts in the Park" program.

Along with local entertainment, Belvidere residents are just minutes away from neighboring communities that offer theater productions, nightclubs and other artistic events. Many take advantage of the cultural and entertainment options in nearby Rockford. The New American Theater in Rockford has been recognized nationally for its high quality theater productions. The Starlight Theatre at Rock Valley College is the region’s longest running outdoor summer theater facility. And being only an hour away from downtown Chicago, Belvidere residents have convenient access to the city's vast array of entertainment offerings.

Recreation - Loads of Fun!

Fun and relaxation are important to the residents of Belvidere, and it shows in the community’s extensive range of recreational options. The Belvidere Township Park District offers numerous outdoor facilities for the community. Belvidere Park, which spans 78 acres, is home to hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, swimming facilities, volleyball and basketball courts, a fishing pier and picnic areas. Residents can access the park’s boat and canoe launches, and the William Grady Pool is one of the best in the area. The beautiful Kishwaukee Riverfront Path extends from Belvidere Park through the downtown district. Currently 2.1 miles in length, community organizations are raising funds and planning ways to extend and enhance this path. Along with these facilities, the Belvidere Park District offers residents recreational programs and events, including preschool and after-school activities for children and adults.

The Boone County Conservation District/Nature Center administers and maintains more than 14,000 acres used for hiking,biking, picnicking and nature study. The district offers a variety of cultural activities and nature exhibits throughout the year. The Long Prairie Trail that bisects the county from east to west is a favorite for those who enjoy biking, hiking, or rollerblading.

Other area parks include the Capron Lions Park and the Poplar Grove Lions Park, both located in the northern part of the county. Nearby Rock Cut State Park offers more than 3,000 acres of land available for fishing, hiking, swimming, camping, snowmobiling and horseback riding. Residents can also take advantage of area golf courses, a driving range, and numerous campground resorts.

The Belvidere Family YMCA offers a heated, indoor pool, sauna, fitness center, gymnasium and various classes and recreational leagues for adults and youths. The community also strongly promotes local events and celebrations. Belvidere favorites include the annual Boone County Fair and other popular seasonal events, including a Memorial Day Parade, 4th of July Heritage Days celebration, the Holiday Lights Display, Christmas in the Cabins and Hometown Christmas, a 3-day event each December.

Education

Boone County is served by two school districts, both of which exemplify the best in public education and which are served by a dedicated group of administrators and teachers. Students in the Belvidere area consistently place in the top ten percent nationally in academic and pre-college entrance exams. These school districts serve the community from a variety of educational facilities, and offer a well-rounded education that consists of math, science, arts, business, music and athletics. Parents are encouraged to become involved with the area’s educational system and communicate openly with teachers and academic officials. The Board of Education is comprised of seven elected community members.

Belvidere School District #100 boasts an enrollment of over 5,600 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The district is home to 6 elementary schools, one junior high school and one senior high school. A well-rounded curriculum is in place, focusing on math and science, reading and writing and social sciences. This district is also committed to providing students with education in arts, music and physical education.

North Boone School District #200 serves the northern part of the county, including Capron and Poplar Grove. Current enrollment in this district exceeds 1,000, with facilities including three elementary schools and one senior high school. As part of its commitment to teaching and preparing students for the changing role technology plays in our society, this school district has created a District Technology Plan designed to outline extensive methods of integrating technology into the district’s daily educational curriculum. Other programs in this district include the "Reading Buddy" program and an after-school-tutoring program.

The Boone County Special Education Cooperative serves students in both districts from ages 3 through 21. The County also offers 4 parochial schools that address the educational and religious needs of students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Belvidere is served by the Ida Public Library, offering 68,000 volumes and a collection of audio and videotapes, records, art prints and large-print books.

This facility also provides public meeting rooms, inter-library loan services and a summer reading program.

Students and adults who wish to continue their education in under-graduate, graduate and post-graduate studies will find exceptional facilities and programs in the area. The nearby Rockford Education Center is a recent addition to Northern Illinois University, the second largest university in the State of Illinois. This education, training, and conference center offers numerous graduate and undergraduate level classes during the evenings. During the daytime, the center serves as a full-service training facility with meeting rooms, catering services, audiovisual aids and technical capabilities such as videoconferencing.

Rockford College is a four-year institution offering numerous services for non-traditional students. Bachelor degrees are offered in more than thirty areas of specialization, and graduate degrees in Teaching and Business Administration are also offered. Many residents take advantage of the non-credit seminars offered at Rockford College by the American Management Association. Students may also study abroad for a semester through an arrangement with Regents College in London, England.

Rock Valley College offers adult and continuing education programs in various disciplines. Courses concentrate on such subjects as machine design, industrial manufacturing, electronics and computer science - each contributing to the area’s strong labor force. The school’s Technology Center offers a hands-on technical curriculum. Programs, seminars and training in applied software and data communications technology are offered to students as well as area corporations.

The University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford offers more than fifty programs in health and medicine.

Beloit College in nearby Beloit, Wisconsin offers 41 fields of study in 22 departments that lead to Bachelor of Arts or Science degrees. The college offers a Master’s program in Teaching as well as two-year programs in the areas of engineering, forestry, and social work.

The University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service offers education programs that relate to horticulture and the environment, economics, community and leadership development, family and youth, and agricultural production. The Extension Office located in Belvidere serves Boone County with all University of Illinois resources available to individuals, organizations and local communities.

Business & Industry

The number of major industries that conduct business in Belvidere and Boone County is testimony of the community’s sincere commitment to commercial businesses. Although perhaps best known for its scenic, gently rolling hills and productive farmland, Belvidere also boasts an active business community. Major industries include Daimler Chrysler Corporation, Pillsbury/Green Giant, Dean Foods,

Camcar Textron, Belvedere USA Corp. and Tenneco Packaging.

Comprehensive land-use planning shapes new development while zoning codes accommodate controlled growth and preserve prime agricultural land. Farming and agricultural services provide more than 6.5% of Belvidere's employment opportunities. Boone County’s ample supply of quality industrial sites and acreage for development are attractive to corporations, and numerous incentives designed to attract and retain businesses are offered locally, including the Belvidere-Boone County Enterprise Zone and a downtown tax increment financing district.

The area’s strong pool of experienced labor has also been a contributing factor in corporate decisions to build facilities in Belvidere. In response to a growing business community, local developers have built new commercial subdivisions, including Sager Corporate Park, Landmark Industrial Park, Town Hall Industrial Park, Huntwood Business Park and the Hammersmith Subdivision. This surge in commercial real estate development has resulted in numerous business ventures. Belvidere’s commercial real estate market also includes numerous existing business parks, each offering a variety of amenities and conveniences.

The community warmly welcomes new businesses and remains firmly committed to the success of existing businesses. With its attractive location and proximity to car, train, and air transportation, Belvidere is simply a smart choice for businesses.

Healthcare

The Boone County area is served by exceptional healthcare facilities. State of the art hospitals are expertly staffed and provide emergency medical treatment as well as a variety of specialized health care prevention and treatment programs. Belvidere is home to a pool of talented health care professionals including physicians, nurses, therapists, optometrists and dentists.

Northwest Suburban Community Hospital in Belvidere offers a Medical/Surgical Unit, Physical Therapy, Laboratory, Radiology and Outpatient Services. The hospital’s Bariatric Treatment Center serves the needs of community members with serious weight disorders through a specialized medical program including surgical solutions for long-term weight loss.

OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, located on the eastern side of Rockford, is a 254-bed Level I trauma center facility. This facility is home to the Regional Burn Unit, Regional Heart Institute, the Illinois Neuroscience Institute and the new Center for Cancer Care.

This teaching hospital is affiliated with the UIC College of Medicine at Rockford, and serves as the site for the Northern Illinois Mobile Intensive Care Program and the Bachelor’s Degree for the College of Nursing.

Rockford Memorial Hospital is a 434-bed, full service hospital with a Level I Trauma Center and numerous specialized programs, including the REACT medical helicopter, Regional Dialysis Center, Neonatal/Pediatric Intensive Care Units, a Family Birthing Center and ASK-A-NURSE, a 24-hour health information and referral service.

Established in 1911, Swedish American Hospital is recognized nationally for excellence in the fields of cardiovascular medicine, cancer treatment, psychiatry, mental health treatment, obstetrics, laser and emergency medicine. This 400-bed, acute care facility is home to the area’s busiest emergency room. In addition, this teaching hospital is affiliated with the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Belvidere residents also have convenient access to numerous walk-in clinics. Area clinics include Riverview Medical Group, the Shappert Primary Care Clinic and the Belvidere Clinic. OSF HealthCare's plans are underway to build a 14,000 square foot primary care facility in Belvidere. This clinic will offer diagnostic services and an urgent care center.

Government

The City of Belvidere is served by a mayor/council government with 10 elected officials each serving a 4-year term. Residents are encouraged to become actively involved in city government, and communication with local officials is strongly encouraged.

Public utilities include a water department that is owned and operated by the City of Belvidere with a supply coming from eight wells capable of pumping more than 11 million gallons per day. The city boasts 78 miles of water mains and 591 hydrants. The water is state tested, with chlorine added for purity. Belvidere's sewage treatment plant is municipally owned. Wastewater treatment processing capabilities exceed 6.5 million gallons per day. The wastewater plant operates in accordance with IEPA and USEPA regulations and is directed by a certified state licensed operator.

Commonwealth Edison Company supplies electricity to the city, with a headquarters in nearby Rockford. Nicor Gas provides area residents with reliable, economical gas supplies. GTE offers advanced digital services to Belvidere, installing and maintaining a comprehensive range of PBXs and data products. Residents can take advantage of such offerings as digital switching, T-1, or ISDN for their telecommunications needs.

An enhanced Emergency-911 telephone system and an exceptional Police Department serve Belvidere residents. The Police Department staff includes 32 full-time police officers. The Department owns 17 squad cars that are equipped with two-way radio and first aid equipment. Areas of specialization include a K-9 Unit, Gang Intervention Unit, Bike Patrol, Accident Reconstruction and Auto Theft Task Force. Programs offered by the Police Department include an Elderly Service Program, Neighborhood Watch and the Citizens Police Academy.

The Belvidere Fire Department consists of 22 full-time firefighters who serve the community from two station locations. The Fire Department emphasizes professionalism and continuing education and training for all members. All firefighters are trained in lifesaving emergency medical treatment and the department staff includes 6 paramedics. There are 7 emergency vehicles in the department. Areas of focus in the department include Arson Investigations, Fire Prevention and Fire Safety Inspections. A highly regarded Juvenile Fire-setters education program exists, and programs currently in development include a Dive Rescue Team, and confined space rescue techniques. The department participates in many local safety awareness programs.

Worship

Belvidere’s churches represent many diverse faiths with regular worship services and religious education offered. Throughout Boone County, residents have access to dozens of houses of worship representing virtually all faiths. This spiritual community welcomes newcomers with open arms, and contributes a variety of outreach and social service programs designed to enhance the community of Belvidere.