ROCKFORD, May 27 — The Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), the Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger welcomed Northrop Grumman to Rockford today to foster connections with 36 northern Illinois companies at a supplier symposium.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global provider of products and services — especially the defense industry — including aerospace, electronic systems, information systems and technical services.
The Rockford Region is the largest center of aerospace production employment in Illinois and sixth in the United States. It has five tier-one companies in Winnebago County alone and 90+ supporting suppliers in the region, with 250+ in the wider two-state cluster that includes Wisconsin.
The purpose of the symposium was to shed light on the opportunities at Northrop Grumman and the process of becoming a supplier. In addition to a 45-minute presentation, the morning included 10-minute one-on-one meetings for businesses with Northrop Grumman representatives (think “speed dating”) as well as roundtable discussions on international business, government contract procurement and workforce resources.
“We are grateful to welcome Northrop Grumman to the Rockford Region and to introduce them to our impressive manufacturing and service resources,” said Michael Nicholas, president of the RAEDC. Today’s event was an excellent opportunity for both our suppliers and Northrop Grumman, with the potential for mutually beneficial results, Nicholas said.
“Suppliers, including small, disadvantaged, minority and veteran-owned companies, are critical to our success,” said Gloria Pualani, corporate director, Global Supplier Diversity Programs/Government Relations, Northrop Grumman Corporation. “That’s why we do events like these in Rockford and other locations around the country. So we can reach out and connect with a broad and diverse base of potential suppliers. As a leading global security company, maintaining a diverse supplier base helps us to provide increasingly more innovative and affordable solutions and products to our customers.”
Clayton Balmes of Spartacus Group, a specialty lubricants manufacturer in Rockford, said he appreciates the opportunities, resources and connections at events like this because they provide a path to success. “People at this event are good-hearted, transparent and here to help.”
Jessica Dishman of Safety Socket, a fastener supplier in Gilberts, found value in the exposure provided by the symposium as well as the regional networking. “It’s such a small world that you never know when that one person you meet will be the person you need.”
In 2014, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council coordinated with Congressman Kinzinger’s office on similar supplier symposiums in Rockford that connected 25 companies with Boeing and 38 with Lockheed Martin.
RAAN Chairman Jeff Kaney emphasized that this is a time for our region to shine.
“Rockford is the aerospace capital of Illinois. We are a very strong cluster that is gaining attention,” said Kaney, CEO of Kaney Aerospace in Rockford.
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