RAEDC’s Annual Meeting Looks Forward for Continued Success

Rebecca Ryan, Futurist addressed business and community leaders about the future of the Rockford Region at the Rockford Area Economic Development Council’s (RAEDC) Annual Meeting.

Fourteen years ago, Ryan discussed where she saw us in the future. This evening she evaluated her predictions and we have accomplished so much since her last visit.

“It’s very forward-looking for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council to explore this question of AI’s impact on the region’s employers and economy. Almost all of us are interacting with AIs every day when we say ‘Okay Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’ or when they talk to Alexa. But most people don’t know that AIs have been taking jobs since the 1990s and the long-term impact will create an even bigger divide between the haves and have nots. This is an important conversation about businesses’ role in thoughtfully advancing AI,” comments Ryan.

There are three observations from Ryan’s presentation to consider as technology, AI, and humans interactions increase;

  • AI is everywhere and getting smarter
  • AI’s impact on jobs and the economy is, in part, up to us
  • There are differences but also relationships between big data, AI, computational learning, and neural networks

Nathan Bryant, President & CEO continued to remind the community that we are looking forward and moving forward. “By continuing to connect the dots, finding sustainable solutions to creating a skilled workforce, and focusing on where we want to be as a community, we will attain our goals of making this THE place people want to work, play and live,” states Bryant.

During his presentation, Mike Paterson, Chairman of the RAEDC’s Board of Directors updated the progress made on the three key economic indicators outlined in the Rockforward20/20 Strategic Plan. “These figures clearly demonstrate the commitment our economic development partners, stakeholders and most importantly businesses have to region,” remarks Paterson, who is approaching his second year as Chairman of the RAEDC’s Board.

The RAEDC will continue to cultivate opportunities for primary job growth that will continue to increase the economic well-being of our region and propel us to be a Top 25 community.

Economic Impact Capital Investment
New & Retained

72% to Goal of
New & Renovated
5.2 Million Square Feet
65% to Goal of
8,000,000 sqft
Capital Investment
$1.2 Billion
127% to Goal of
$925 Million


Rebecca Ryan is trained as a futurist and an economist, Rebecca helps clients see what’s coming – as a keynote speaker, a Futures Lab facilitator, an author of books, blogs and articles, a client advisor, and the founder of Futurist Camp.