Rockford Area Aerospace Network

The Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN) is a consortium of companies implementing a strategic plan to increase the competitiveness of the Rockford Region for aerospace expansion and attraction.

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The Rockford Region has strong aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries and supply chains. Manufacturers find the area to be an ideal location based on the region’s highly skilled workforce, the availability of highly specialized existing facilities, and a strong, qualified supplier base.

On every commercial plane, there is a part or system that has been manufactured or designed in the Rockford Region. This strong supply chain and experienced workforce in advanced manufacturing and the aerospace industry make us your opportunity region.

The concentration in aerospace employment is 6th in the nation and the Rockford MSA has twice the employment in manufacturing than in the rest of the U.S.


Leverage the power of a collection of Midwest aerospace businesses to attract growth, optimize business competitiveness and results.


RAAN is the leading aerospace cluster in the nation.

This is how the Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN) fits into the flowchart of the Greater Rockford Growth Partnership (GRGP) and the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC)

Where we are

The Rockford Region, just northwest of Chicago, is the largest center of aerospace production employment in Illinois and sixth in the United States. RAAN is a component of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council which is a part of the GRGP.

Why we work together

RAAN has multiple aspects of purpose and benefits for those companies that participate in the network; focusing on these initiatives to address the industry’s greatest needs.

Puzzle pieces of RAAN's purpose - growth - cost savings - workforce development - processes
  • Fostering innovation through industry and cross-industry synergies.
  • Encouraging supplier development through a growing awareness of requirements and continuous improvement.
  • Expand business development opportunities through B2B matchmaking and sales missions.
  • Increasing the focus on workforce development that feeds the pipeline at all levels and disciplines for industry growth.
  • Enhancing the global brand of Rockford as Your Opportunity Region
  • Growing the size and diversity of our cluster by attracting new companies to establish operations in the Rockford Region.


David Forward | Woodward, Inc.
David Forward joined Woodward in 2018 as Vice President of Quality for the Aircraft Turbine Systems Group.

David started his career in the USAF as an F-15E Crew Chief. After leaving the Air Force he joined Midway Airlines in Raleigh, NC where he performed flightline maintenance on Boeing and Bombardier aircraft. He later joined GE Aviation as an Assembly and Test Technician in Durham, NC where he worked on various commercial engine programs.

David spent 11 years with GE and progressed through various roles and locations from A&T Technician to Materials Manager, GE90 Operations Manager, Quality Manager (CA), and Plant Manager (IL). He later joined Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT as a Production Chief overseeing rate readiness for entry into service of the Gear Turbofan Engine models for Bombardier, Mitsubishi, and Embraer.

David earned his bachelor’s degree in Aircraft Systems Maintenance and his MBA with a concentration in finance from Campbell University. He also earned his Airframe and Powerplant License from the FAA.

Reg Gustafson | Clinkenbeard
Ron “Reg” Gustafson is currently the VP of Business Development with Clinkenbeard. He has been with the company for 25 years in various roles including cost estimating and project management. Clinkenbeard is a proud founding member of RAAN (Rockford Area Aerospace Network) and is a long-term investor of the RAEDC (Rockford Area Economic Development Council). Prior to joining Clinkenbeard Reg was a Programmer and Business Analyst with State Farm Insurance. 

Reg has a BS in Computer Science from Illinois State University and is currently working on his MBA at Rockford University. 

Outside of work he is an avid cyclist and is a board member for the Institute of World Affairs and Trade at Rockford University. Reg is a Planning Committee and Recruiting member for SAE Rockford Beloit Chapter. He also spends time with the Jail Ministry including Kairos and Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry. Reg has one son who is attending Rockford University. 

Who we are:

structural engine housingThe Rockford Region is home to four tier-one companies and more than 250 suppliers within a 90-minute radius.

Major subsectors include AS9100 and Nadcap certified suppliers of:

  • Electric power generation systems
  • Power management
  • Actuation systems
  • Metal component fabrication
  • Aircraft interior manufacturing
  • Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO)

How to join:

Contact the RAEDC for details – or 815-987-8118.

How we work together:

Examples include:

  • National/international trade show participation
  • Supplier symposiums and networking opportunities
  • Educational and vocational partnerships and initiatives
  • Marketing efforts
  • Training and information-sharing

side view of an engineRockford Area Aerospace Network was formed by the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, which works with partners to improve the economic strength of the Rockford Region by helping employers retain and create quality jobs.

To learn more, call 815.987.8118 or email