Greater Beloit should be thankful for the present, and bullish on the future.

Here in our community there are many things for which to be thankful, starting with this one.

After more than a year and a half of pandemic fears, families and friends once again can gather to celebrate that most fundamental human need. Togetherness.

It’s not about turkey and the fixings. Or football. Or a day off work.

Rather, this is a holiday dedicated to reflecting on what’s right in our lives. And, for that matter, on the family support systems that sustain us when things are not right.

Typically, human nature is such that people dwell on the challenges that confront them in their everyday lives. There may be health issues, paychecks that fall short of bills, work conflicts, political differences and so much more. Setting aside a particular day to let all that go and recognize blessings is a uniquely American tradition.

It’s our hope Stateline Area families engage the holiday in such a manner, feeling anew the simple joy of spending time safely with loved ones.

On a larger scale, for all but the youngest among us, there is reason to take note of how blessed our community has been in recent decades. Not that the younger folks shouldn’t be appreciative, too, but for many of them Greater Beloit has always been an up-and-coming place.

Not so for older residents. There was a time, not long ago, when dark clouds hung low over the community. The central commercial district had as many empty storefronts as it had active businesses. Major industries were failing. Jobs were hard to find. Ugly crimes brought unwanted attention and created a bad reputation for the city across Wisconsin. The community looked old and worn, as if the best days were behind it.

Today is very different.

The community -- and that includes Beloit, South Beloit and the surrounding townships and villages -- has experienced a robust turnaround. The central commercial corridor is not only thriving with businesses, but has the kind of curb appeal that attracts out-of-towners to enjoy the hospitality. The Gateway Business Park is one of Wisconsin’s most successful and growing locations for investors and developers. Interior transportation corridors have been rebuilt and show beautifully. The interstate highway improvements bolster the kind of traffic flow that can only help attract new investment. Showplaces abound, from the new ABC Supply Stadium to The Lincoln Academy to the huge Amazon fulfillment center. This kind of list could go on and on, but the point is Greater Beloit has turned the corner and pride and promise have replaced doubt and despair.

Certainly, challenges remain. That list is topped by the need to improve achievement in the School District of Beloit and to lessen incidents of gun violence.

Perfection always will be an elusive goal. Nevertheless, there’s no denying -- especially for those old enough to remember what came before -- the community’s arc toward betterment is still climbing sharply.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on such things. To be joyous in the long-delayed opportunity for family togetherness. To be appreciative of what so many have done to make our community a place to be noticed and modeled, not pitied. To be hopeful the best is yet to come.

For, truly, that outcome is within our grasp if the people who live and work here will it to be so and continue to push forward. Great things happen where people work together toward common goals.

From the Beloit Daily News family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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