Continuing the benefits of the Industrial Partnership
The Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) welcomes Linnea Bengtsson, International Business Developer, City of Lidköping & County of Skaraborg, Sweden back to the Rockford Region. As part of the Industrial Partnership between Lidköping, Sweden and the City of Rockford, Bengtsson spends time in both countries to serve as a cultural translator and liaison when companies are seeking partnerships or to expand into these markets.
During Bengtsson’s most recent time in Sweden, she held 20 meetings resulting in the Rockford Region appearing in the Swedish news on a weekly basis as an opportunity region. The increased awareness of the area’s opportunities has resulted in two companies scheduled to tour the Rockford Region this spring.
The U.S. market is the third largest export market for Sweden and this partnership brings the right people to the table at the right time. Bengtsson’s ability to assist Swedish companies navigate the U.S. market and the high level of Swedish-based heritage in the area provides an ideal relationship starting point to further expound on the benefits that can be found within the Rockford Region. As a direct result of this partnership Leading Edge Hydraulics has added more than 25 jobs and built a new technology center since partnering with Swedish hydraulic company CEJN AB in Skövde.
In addition to the economic development initiatives the partnership also facilitates international student projects. This spring construction students from Lidköping will continue give a helping hand to the renovations of Swedish Historical Society´s Nordic Cultural Center. The signed educational agreement between College of Medicine and University of Skövde will move forward with identifying students and faculty for exchanges.
The decade-old partnership between the municipalities has been extended and the funding has been secured for an additional three years resulting in the continued effort to expand foreign direct investment initiatives through 2019. Though many cities have sister-city relationships, the Industrial Partnership Agreement is worldly unique. This agreement is more of an economic development tool, a navigation and networking tool that helps organizations and companies to grow locally by working globally.
With new government leadership in both municipalities and nationally in the U.S. there is an increased need for this type of partnership. The Industrial Partnership Agreement was first signed between the Mayor Lawrence Morrissey, City of Rockford and Mayor Kjell Hedvall, City of Lidköping, in August of 2006 at the Läckö Castle, Lidköping, Sweden. SwedishAmerican Chamber of Commerce (SACC) introduced the two cities. In 2011, the agreement was updated through a signing ceremony via Skype, between Mayor Lawrence Morrissey and Mayor Kjell Hedvall. In 2014 the agreement was updated and expanded and now includes the City of Lidköping and County of Skaraborg on the Swedish side and the City of Rockford, Winnebago County, SwedishAmerican Health System (Rockford, IL) and Sustain Dane (Madison, WI) on the U.S. side.