I am often asked how the RAEDC attracts new companies to the Rockford Region given some of the challenges with which our region and our state must contend as well as the number of competing regions/states.
The first step is to have a targeted marketing effort focused on site selectors, real estate brokers and companies that we wish to attract to the Rockford Region. We have been executing such a targeted marketing effort internationally, nationally and regionally for the past twelve months combining personal contacts, advertising and articles about the Rockford Region.
The second step in successful attraction is to target the areas where we are the strongest and in which we have the best chance of succeeding. One of those areas is Advanced Manufacturing.
Our region has great assets to support Advanced Manufacturing: a good workforce, great building sites, a strong logistics infrastructure and very competitive utility rates. In addition, we have a well-developed manufacturing supply chain….manufacturing companies need other companies to support them in their primary mission with help in specialized machining, heat treating and testing services. We have all of those support companies in our Region. These assets make our Region a cost competitive and economically attractive place to locate a manufacturing business.
The proof of the region’s attractiveness is that our region currently (and has for some time) enjoyed the second highest job growth rate of any region in the State of Illinois. In addition, the Rockford Region currently has over 5,000 job openings and more job openings are on the way.
- Woodward continues to hire as they ramp up to meet increased demand.
- Chrysler will be hiring more people as they begin producing the Jeep Cherokee in Belvidere next year.
- AAR will commence operation at the airport in the near future.
- Our trade people will be building the largest capital project in the history of the Rockford as construction of a new hospital gets underway.
- Thousands of “baby boomers” will be retiring over the next 5-10 years creating more job opportunities.
Lastly we work with our economic development partners throughout the region to present the best sites available for a given requirement based upon the most current data. In addition, our workforce development and educational partners are building the workforce pipeline necessary to support current and future requirements.
We have the momentum and we will sustain it.
Until next month,
Mike Nicholas, President
Rockford Area Economic Development Council