Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy


As its name implies, a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) lays out a regional strategy for economic development with the ultimate goal being a stronger, more diverse regional economy. While the CEDS’ most critical function is to provide a regional economic development framework, it also serves as a required vehicle through which some federal agencies (especially the Economic Development Administration (EDA)) evaluate requests for grant assistance. Without having a CEDS approved by the EDA, no one in the region is eligible to receive Economic Development Assistance Grants, including the Stimulus Funds for economic development.

History of the Economic Development Strategy

Winnebago and Boone counties created the region’s first CEDS in 2010 through a process that aligned public sector, private sector, nonprofit and community partners, as well as public input, into a plan for regional development. The CEDS has successfully aided the region in receiving the following grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration:

  • A $6.1 million State of Ingenuity grant collaboration between Boone/Winnebago counties and Wisconsin counties to promote entrepreneurship and innovation programs.
  • A $2.7 million public works grant to upgrade roads around Chicago Rockford International Airport.
  • A $1.8 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant (through EDA and other federal agencies) to promote the region’s aerospace cluster.

View the 2016-2020 Rockford Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy 

The 2016-2020 CEDS developed by Economic Development District of Northern Illinois EDDNI, includes Winnebago, Boone and McHenry counties. The EDA emphasizes that the CEDS is a planning process that includes representation from the main economic interests of the region including private sector representatives, public officials, community leaders, private individuals, representatives of workforce development boards, institutions of higher education, minority and labor groups, non-profit organizations and educational institutions. A CEDS Strategy Committee is charged with leading the effort and incorporating public input along the way.

The objective is to develop a document that outlines a development strategy rather than a laundry list of projects. Although we are not including an exhaustive list of projects, the CEDS Strategy Committee should identify a list of key projects that are prioritized in line with regional assets and that will further the regional development strategy laid out in the document. The process is usually coordinated by an Economic Development District, in this case the Economic Development District of Northern Illinois (EDDNI). EDDNI is collaborating the following partners:

However, the list of companies, governments and agencies involved in the process is much longer.