Winnebago County News Briefs


Visitor spending reaches all time high in region

During 2016, visitor spending in Rockford and Winnebago County reached an all-time high of $353 million, directly creating/sustaining 2,888 jobs with $85.51 million in payroll.

An analysis of visitor spending since the Great Recession shows that tourism in Winnebago County is growing faster than in other major counties in Illinois.

Spending in Winnebago County grew 39% since 2009. This growth was second in the State of Illinois only to growth in Chicago/Cook County.

In 2016, local tax receipts generated by visitors – funds that help local governments pay for services residents rely on – were $6.23 million and state tax receipts were $19.02 million. Compared to 2015, visitor spending was up 1 percent, employment grew by 2.4 percent and wages grew by 5.6 percent.

Importantly, local tax receipts grew by 5.5 percent and state tax receipts grew by 3.2 percent according to numbers released by the Illinois Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism and US Travel Association.

In addition to overall visitor spending statistics, hotel sector-specific data demonstrate growth with all major hotel sector KPIs (key performance indicators) on the rise.

  • ADR (average daily rate) reached $81.27 in 2016, up from $64.70 in 2009.
  • RevPAR (revenue per available room) reached $49.70 in 2016, up from $32.64 in 2009.
  • The occupancy rate reached 61.2% in 2016, up from 47.0% in 2009.
  • Annual hotel rooms booked in Rockford (demand) grew to 651,000 in 2016 from 507,000 in 2009, a compound annual growth rate of 3.6%.

Statewide, domestic and international travel expenditures reached $37.9 billion in 2016 – a $571 million increase from 2015. This follows the state’s record-breaking domestic Illinois tourism numbers released in May, which highlighted an increase of one million travelers to the state in 2016.


Appino steps down as Auburn football coach

Dan Appino is stepping down as Auburn football coach after six successful seasons.

Appino submitted his resignation last week but will continue to be associated with the program and also serve as a counselor at the school.

Assistant coach JP Toldo has been named Appino’s successor. Toldo has worked with Appino since 2009 as an assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, varsity assistant and head freshman coach.

“I have reached a point in my career and life where the energy and enthusiasm needed to maintain that high-level position has eclipsed my ability and desire to fulfill those needs on a continual basis,” Appino said in a statement.

The Knights made it to the playoffs in five of Appino’s six years. Auburn’s varsity team has a 43-20 win-loss record over the past six years, including two NIC-10 championships.

Under Appino’s leadership, every senior who completed the football program graduated high school, and more than 20 student-athletes continued their football careers in college.

Longtime He is also in his sixth year working at Auburn, most recently as a student mentor. “I have valued Coach Appino as a mentor, coach and friend for the last decade,” Toldo said. “He will continue to be a valued member of our football family. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue our Auburn football tradition.”

Mat Parker, Director of Athletics and Activities, expects the transition with Toldo’s leadership to be smooth.

“It’s about culture and stability,” Parker said. “Coach Appino changed the culture of Auburn football and implemented core principles in the program: being on time, a class act, and an aggressive learner,” said Mat Parker, Auburn athletic director. “Those principles helped the program thrive, and Coach Toldo will continue that mindset and culture.”


Learn about Smart Meters at workshop

Dec. Put the new smart meter technology to work for you by learning how to manage your choices. Join A Saving Money with Smart Meters Workshop will be held on Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Stockton Public Library, 140 W. Benton Ave., Stockton.

Extension Educator Jay Solomon will offer an overview of the energy and cost saving opportunities opened by the recently installed electricity “Smart Meters”. 

Basics of the smart meter technology, accessing your energy information, proactively managing your energy use and cost, and ComEd consumer programs will be included in the discussion at the Saving Money with Smart Meters Workshop

This workshop is free and open to the public.  Pre-registration is requested by calling the University of Illinois Extension at (815) 235-4125 or on-line at 


–Winnebago County News Briefs–