Indian-American developer donates 8 acres of land to Christian school

Real estate developer and philanthropist Sunil Puri, president of First Midwest Group of Rockford, Illinois. (Photo: Facebook)

An Indian-American developer has donated 8 acres of land to a Christian school in Rockford, Illinois.

Sunil Puri, president of First Midwest Group, and his family, donated the land adjacent to Rockford Christian Schools, valued at more than $2.7 million. It was officially gifted to the Rockford Christian Education Association Dec. 26, “and will be used for future expansion of the school,” Puri posted on the First Midwest Group Facebook site. The parcel is adjacent to their existing facilities on Bell School and Guilford sd. fronting I-90.

“The enrichment of this area and education is close to my heart. I was welcomed to Rockford University and embraced by the Rockford community as a foreign student,” Puri said on Facebook, adding, “This land will allow for future growth by establishing a site for construction of a new elementary school.”

Rockford Christian Schools, on its website, shows expansion plans for the adjacent land, and outlines the envisioned campus. The RCS, said it had “significant expansion plans which include building an Indoor Fitness and Recreation Facility, a Center for the Arts, and a residence hall to enhance its college-preparatory experience and serve as a home for students from around the nation and the world.”

This is not the first time Puri and his family have donated land to that educational institution. According to, the Puri family and First Midwest Group donated 20 acres of land in 1996 for the original school, and another 2 acres in 2002 for a science and humanities center.

“We are thrilled, as a 20 year partnership, we’ve just seen this grow from a farm into what it has turned into and I can’t think of any better stewards of this land and the legacy than Rockford Christian,” Puri said on the First Midwest Group’s Facebook page. “This is something that is dear to my heart. I’ve driven by it and I’ve seen the progress and the growth over this period of time.” Puri added.

According to his biography on the company website, Puri, 57, was born in Bombay, and  immigrated to the United States in 1979 to attend Rockford University, where he graduated in 1982 with a B.S. in accounting.  He also graduated from the Harvard Business School Program of Management and Leadership.

He co-founded the real estate development firm, First Midwest Group, formerly First Rockford Group, in 1984.  The company develops retail, office, and warehouse projects, owns and operates restaurant and hospitality properties, and currently has more than 350 tenants, the company website says.

Puri was a principal in the development of a technology office park in Pune, India in 1988, and continues to pursue real estate opportunities in India, and has several private equity investments in India and China, according to First Midwest Group.  While most of his Vaprojects are concentrated in Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, Puri has also developed properties in California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

In Rockford, Illinois, where he is based, Puri is actively involved with the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).  He serves on the Executive Committee and as a Trustee of Rockford University, is on the Rockford Area Economic Development Council Board, and is involved in several philanthropic initiatives.

He also served on President Barack Obama’s  White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, according to his biography.




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