BREAKING IT DOWN: THE ACRONYMS AND THE MISSION
ZION Development Corporation (ZDC) is a community development corporation (CDC) of Rockford Illinois that was founded as an offshoot of the Zion Lutheran Church’s (ZLC) outreach programs in 1982.
The ZDC is still closely connected to the vision of the ZLC even today. The ZDC’s mission statement is “Building communities that enrich lives in response to God’s love,” and to expound on that, we also work to promote improvement in “six elements of a healthy neighborhood,” which are health, meaningful work, faith and moral values, housing, education, and supportive social relationships.
ZDC’s current programs focus on the operation of affordable housing developments and commercial space in the Midtown area. The two largest affordable housing developments include Longwood Plaza Apartments, an affordable independent senior development, and the Grand Apartments, the only permanent supportive housing development in Winnebago County. At the Grand Apartments, ZDC has partnered with Carpenter’s Place to provide case management services and at the Longwood Gardens Apartments the ZDC has the Walter D. Williams Wellness Program for residents. ZDC also rents space to Katie’s Cup, a coffee shop created in partnership between ZDC and Rockford Area Lutheran Ministries. Katie’s Cup quickly became a social hub for the midtown community after it opened.
The greatest impact that the ZDC has had on the Midtown community is the reduction of crime in the area after redeveloping our properties. Before redevelopment, the Grand Apartments was the most dangerous building within nine counties, according to local law enforcement. The old Grand Hotel was making multiple 911 calls a day, costing the city thousands of dollars, but now is a safe and sanitary home to 45 men and women.
Another prime example of how ZDC has impacted Midtown Rockford was a 300% reduction in property related crimes in a four block radius around Katie’s Cup Coffee Bar in the three years since the coffee shop opened.
When asked what ZDC’s vision for the coming year was Bob Campbell, Executive Director of ZDC, says he wants to improve on current projects while also starting some new programs. “I would like to see the restructuring of the Longwood low income housing tax credit project and filling our last commercial space in the 7th street commercial corridor finished in the coming year,” he says. “We are also looking into neighborhoods for another Strong Neighborhood House in partnership with the Rock River Valley United Way, and the Rockford Police Department.”
A more recent development was a proposal to start a small business venture to employ returning citizens and other hard to employ people. “Employing the hard to employ was a major part of our programming in the early years of the organization, and it is a service that is still needed in the community today,” says Bob.
— Adam Kirk, AmeriCorps VISTA at ZION Development