Meet our Staff


The Rockford Area Economic Development Council employs economic development professionals focused on serving clients, investors, and partners. RAEDC staff work with regional economic development partners to cultivate opportunities for primary job growth that increase the economic well-being of our region.

Nathan Bryant President & CEO

nathan_bryant - RAEDC President and CEOAs President & Chief Executive Officer of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), Nathan is responsible for managing all the organization’s efforts, including business retention and expansion, new business recruitment, and improvement of our regional business climate. In his role for the RAEDC, Nathan serves on several community boards, including the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Alignment Rockford, and Stateline Angels.

Prior to joining the RAEDC, Nathan most recently served as the President of Development for Spring Creek Development Group in which he was responsible for deal procurement, financial modeling, leasing, sales, marketing, acquisitions, municipal agreements, and overall management assistance.

Throughout his career, Nathan has transacted a variety of deals encompassing most every aspect of real estate and business. Nathan has successfully crafted over $100M of public/private partnerships in over 50 different communities involving complicated financial structures with critical delivery schedules.

As a licensed Professional Engineer and Real Estate Broker, Nathan brings a unique approach to every aspect of business with a focus on data-driven decisions.  During his professional career, Nathan has developed real estate for many of the top Fortune 50 companies including but not limited to Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Target, Home Depot, and Lowes.

Nathan graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering and subsequently became licensed as a Professional Engineer. He has been licensed as a Real Estate Managing Broker for over fifteen years, as well as being a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), and credentialed as a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM).

Nathan is a longtime advocate for the community and an early adopter of charter schools. In 2009, Nathan led the formation of the Rockford Charter School Organization of which he’s presided as the Board President since its inception.



Jimsi Kuborn Vice President of Investor Relations

RAEDC Staff - Jimsi KubornAs Vice President of Investor Relations for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Jimsi is responsible for leading the organization’s fund development and investor relations, as well as leading the Rockforward20/20 strategic plan. Jimsi serves as the staff liaison to the RAEDC Business and Community Relations Solutions Team, the RAEDC’s Leadership Council, and represents the RAEDC throughout the community in various roles.

Prior to joining the RAEDC, this “boomerang” started her career locally in the real estate sector, with more recent engagements among non-profit organizations and business associations in Chicago and the Northwestern portion of the U.S. Jimsi held several leadership roles in marketing, management, and business development; and most recently, she served as Director of Marketing and PR for Chicago Opera Theater.

Jimsi earned her Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Merchandising from Northern Illinois University, specializing in marketing. Jimsi has served on the boards of the Boise Young Professionals and Opera Idaho with additional civic and leadership roles with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra-Overture Council, League of Chicago Theaters, Step Up Women’s Network-Chicago, League of American Orchestra, Trey McIntyre Project, Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, Ada County Association of Realtors, Rockford Area Association of Realtors, DeKalb Area Association of Realtors, Realtors Political Action Committee, and the Women’s Council of Realtors.

Currently, she serves our community as a member of Next Rockford’s Strategy Team, a member of  KFACT’s Board of Directors, a member of the Remedies’ Board of Directors, and a volunteer with Transform Rockford.

View the Comcast Newsmakers interview with Jimsi.


Gerald “Jerry” Sagona Vice President of National Business Development

Gerald Jerry Sagona - VP of National Business Development

Gerald “Jerry” Sagona joined the staff of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) in October of 2016. As the Vice President of National Business Development, Jerry manages business attraction outreach efforts and area marketing projects. He serves as the liaison between the Rockford Region and the national real estate community, global site selectors, and private companies considering first time investment in the Rockford Region. Jerry is a lifelong resident of the Rockford area and has a relationship with many of the stakeholders the RAEDC works with on a daily basis.

Prior to joining the RAEDC, Jerry was the Village Administrator for twenty years in the Village of Lake in the Hills, Illinois, located in southeastern McHenry County. In this capacity, Jerry managed village operations including Public Works, Finance, Community Development, Police, Parks & Recreation, and a reliever airport. He has extensive experience in community and economic development, municipal finance, and developing capital improvement plans.  During Jerry’s tenure, Lake in the Hills experienced very rapid residential growth as Jerry oversaw industrial and commercial development activities within the Village. He coordinated the entitlement process and extension of utilities to several industrial development sites along the Illinois Route 31 corridor. His work in commercial development along the Randall Road corridor included attracting a Costco wholesale club and a Lowes’s home improvement center to the Village. Preceding his work in Lake in the Hills, Jerry was the Village Administrator in Wauconda, Illinois, and also worked with the Illinois communities of Lincolnwood, DeKalb, and Barrington during his 30 year municipal career.

Jerry obtained his Associate in Art Degree at Rock Valley College, and his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Public Administration degrees at Northern Illinois University. He achieved Credentialed Manager status in the International City/County Management Association, and has served as a Board Member of the Illinois City Management Association and President of the Metropolitan Managers Association. Jerry is actively involved in various community service functions, and has served in club leadership positions with organizations including Rotary International, Kiwanis International, and the Lions Clubs International.


Leilani Hillis Director of Operations

RAEDC Staff - Leilani HillisAs Director of Operations for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Leilani is responsible coordinating the daily operations of the organization including the management of the organization’s administrative staff; supervising organizational and general management, Human Resources/Professional Services, financial services, facilities management, and Information Technology Management. She is the primary contact to the President/CEO and provides support to other management staff, as well as supporting events and various marketing projects. Additionally, Leilani acts as staff liaison to the RAEDC Board of Directors, including Audit and Nominating Committees.

Leilani joined the RAEDC in October of 2000, with several years of customer service experience. She represents the organization as a Certified Notary Public.


Nicole Mayfield Investor Relations Coordinator

RAEDC Staff - Nicole MayfieldAs investor relations coordinator for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), Nicci is responsible for engaging investors in economic development, managing accounts receivable, coordinating events, scheduling meetings with new and prospective investors and overseeing the maintenance of the client database.

Nicci is a native of Rockford and earned her Associates of Applied Science in Business Management/Marketing from Rockford Career College. Nicci joined the organization in 2015 with prior customer service, accounting, and managerial experience.


Erin Marshall Marketing and Communications Coordinator

RAEDC Staff - Erin MarshallAs Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Erin supports the Vice President of Investor Relations through communications, marketing and PR initiatives. She is responsible for assisting at all levels with general responsibilities that include: creating, coordinating and implementing projects and programs that support business development; business attraction; business retention; regional branding; and other economic development programs or projects.

Erin previously worked as the Web Administrator for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and is credited with starting the social network activities for the organization. During her tenure, Erin also oversaw the redevelopment of 6 websites.

She holds a pMBA from The University College of the Cayman Islands along with a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. She has presented her thesis “The Impact of Social Media When Selecting a Vacation Destination” at the UCCI 20/20 Conference and has been a speaker at the Cayman Islands Government Human Resource Professionals Summit.

Erin returned to the Rockford area in July 2015 after living overseas for the past 15 years.


Gina Meeks Business Development Assistant

RAEDC Staff - Gina MeeksAs Business Development Assistant, Gina supports the Vice President for Development, with a focus on Voice of the Customer Surveys and as assistant liaison to the Business Retention & Expansion Solutions Team and the Education for Workforce Development Committee.

Additionally, Gina serves as the first point of contact for investors, clients, and partners. Her administrative duties include managing the reception and phones, providing assistance with scheduling and meeting preparation, and assistance in overseeing the maintenance of the client database. Gina also coordinates and assists with key events focused on strengthening our region’s economic base for its existing employers.

Gina grew up in the Chicago suburbs and has been a Rockford resident for the past 16 years. Gina joined the organization in April of 2016 with prior customer service and administrative experience. She has been active with her family non-profit organization, Inner-City Reconstruction Group, in a mentorship role as well as assisting with event planning and entertaining.