The saga that is Jet Foods and coming Rockford continues, now with talks that include a million-dollar loan.

96.7 The Eagle logo
Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Back in May of 2020 we first heard that a new grocer was coming to the area to fill a vacant storefront on the Northwest side of Rockford. Jet Foods was supposed to open its doors in October of last year in the former Hilander location on N. Main.

Well, October came and went with no Jet Foods insight. Then the beginning of December we were told they had a new opening date which would be the summer of 2021.

On paper, it looks to be a good thing for the city of Rockford. A much-needed extra supermarket for the west side of town along with 70 full-time jobs and 15 part-time jobs that would start at $16 an hour.

Now it appears the city officials are negotiating terms on a potential $1 million loan to entice the newly established grocery company. These talks have some concerned because the company's CEO has a bit of a checkered past.

John Everest Thomas, the CEO of its parent company, Freedom Development Group of Chicago, and Jet Foods namesake was convicted in 2015 for embezzling $370,000 in tax-increment financing funds from the village of Riverdale and was released from prison in 2017. This was Thomas's second felony conviction.

In May Thomas told he had acquired:

“a ton of real estate and helped a whole lot of people. The sensationalistic headlines are just old news.”

As of now, he hasn't commented to the local paper further.

A long-time supporter of Jet Foods opening in town, Rockford Alderman Bill Rose, D-9, says he knows of the CEO's past troubles and is still wanting to move forward with the loan.

The city is well aware of the fact that the owner has a storied past,” Rose said. “That’s one of the big reasons this in fact is a loan and not a giveaway and why they are structuring it to make sure there are safeguards that favor the city.”

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and his administration say they are fully aware of Thomas' indiscretions. Saying that no one has brought forth any new information. McNamara is also confident that an agreement can be hammered out that will protect the city’s interests, is good for the company, and will serve the residents of Rockford.

McNamara said. “We wouldn’t bring any item forward that doesn’t have protections for city dollars, but we are in that process still.”

My only question to all this that I haven't seen asked/answered is why are we as a city thinking of offering a million-dollar loan to entice a business that had already shown interest in and announced they would be opening here in town?

No one is saying that side of Rockford isn't in need of another supermarket option, but should we go in on Jet Foods after all this?

50 Famous Brands That No Longer Exist

50 Famous Brands That No Longer Exist

More From 96.7 The Eagle