Cluster Icons-aerospace- blueAerospace companies in the region network and collaboratively seek opportunities to improve the local business climate, share leads and increase aerospace business opportunities. Companies in the cluster serve industry leaders like Boeing and Airbus, which benefit from being able to visit multiple suppliers in one visit to the region.

Technical Talent and Manufacturing Excellence

There are more than 56,000 engineers within 90 miles of Rockford. The Rockford MSA has more than 4,000 engineers, which is 1.3 times more than the U.S. average. The regional workforce is productive and dedicated, with targeted aerospace industry training programs to ensure suppliers have consistent and long-term access to skilled workers.

Business-Friendly Community

The Rockford Region boasts pro-development oriented communities with a history of supporting the growth needs of advanced manufacturing. The region features a collaborative economic development effort that encourages innovation and supplier development.

Unparalleled Global Access

The region’s location allows for convenient access to regional, national and international markets. As part of the world’s third-largest multi-modal port system, the Rockford Region offers international airports, major interstate connections, ocean and river ports and rail services that provide effortless and cost-effective worldwide movement of employees, customers and products. The Rockford Region is only an hour away from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). It also boasts the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD), a leading cargo airport in the country.

Instant Supply Chain

Rockford’s aerospace cluster is one of the leading aerospace employment centers in the country. The region offers multiple diverse clusters of advanced manufacturing capabilities at twice the national average in manufacturing employment. Rockford’s unique strength is the presence of diverse companies at all levels of the supply chain, including assembly, inspection, testing, repair, and software. The region is comprised of more than 250 aerospace companies within a 90-minute radius, with several tier-one aerospace suppliers, including GE Aviation, UTC Aerospace Systems, and Woodward.

Workforce Development

The Rockford Region has established nimble, industry-specific, and customized education-to-workforce pipelines ensuring the region has the skilled workforce essential to fulfilling the requirements of employers in jobs that are good today, tomorrow, and in the future.

The Rockford Region takes a proactive and pragmatic approach to addressing one of the aerospace industry’s greatest needs – creating qualified talent during a national shortage of engineers, scientists, and technicians.

The region is accomplishing this through programs such as the Engineering Our Future, a partnership between Northern Illinois University (NIU) and Rock Valley College (RVC) where a student can earn a 4-year bachelor’s degree in engineering from NIU for less than $40,000 total, right on the RVC campus. This allows students to remain in our region and worth with employers at internships while attending class.

RVC also provides opportunities for an aerospace career through their aviation maintenance technology program. Students learn everything from materials and processes, aircraft drawing, fuel and lubrication systems, ignition systems, propeller systems, assembly and rigging and so much more. Located in the state-of-the-art Aviation Career Education Center at Chicago Rockford International Airport students learn from experienced faculty with both instructional labs and classroom environments. RVC offers both a both a two-year, FAA approved degree program and an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanic certification program.