How RAEDC’s Business Retention and Expansion Visits Help Rockford Region Businesses Grow

The Rockford Area Economic Development Council plays a crucial role in assisting businesses with business retention and expansion. We can also help make connections to different levels of government, identify workforce needs like training and recruitment, and simply be an extension of your team to help your business navigate the business resource ecosystem.

RAEDC is the only agency in Winnebago County doing business retention and expansion visits.  We meet one-on-one with CEOs and plant managers to learn about the business and to understand its opportunities and obstacles in growth. Our role is to connect the business to resources that will increase its revenue or decrease its expenses. Our goal is to keep that company growing in Winnebago County.

RAEDC meets with primary employers, and companies that sell a good or service outside of the region. Primary employers might be manufacturers, PR and media companies, or engineering firms. Companies like restaurants and other lifestyle businesses are secondary employers that circulate dollars within the local economy. They are an important part of the ecosystem, but not the section that RAEDC focuses on. 

Understanding Your Needs

During the retention visit, we gather information on employment levels, sales trends, the size of the facility, whether the company has room to expand on its current site, and much more. We talk about training needs, exporting and importing, government contracting opportunities, pinch points, and the CEO’s biggest accomplishment of the past few years.  We keep this information confidential but might share information in the aggregate to identify specific needs or trends.  

Networking with RAEDC

Our strength is in our network at RAEDC. We can connect your company to programs related to training grants, customized training programs, import tax abatements through the FTZ #176, programs for financing buildings and machinery and equipment, working capital loans for small businesses, marketing assistance, exporting assistance, leadership development programs, government contracting programs, municipal connections, and programs and tools to help manufacturers operate more efficiently using data analysis and Industry 4.0 tools. We help companies identify new sites and programs to offset the cost of the infrastructure. Those are just a few of the programs available. Your job is to run your company; RAEDC’s job is to know these resources and bring them to you.

Making the Connection

Every company we meet with has workforce issues; finding and retaining workers is the top challenge to business growth. We make sure companies are connected to The Workforce Connection for job fairs, training grant dollars, and we’ll make connections at community colleges and local universities. Connecting with your local high school for internship opportunities and apprenticeships is a great way to identify young employees and keep them interested in the Rockford area after high school and during college. We’re aware of other pools of workers less frequently accessed, like veteran’s groups, the Rockford Housing Authority, and refugee services. We talk about the general pay and benefit levels other companies might be offering and the importance of workplace culture. Do you have any winning strategies? We’d love to hear from you.

There is no charge for a business retention visit and you don’t need to be an investor to benefit from a BRE visit, just a primary employer. 

BRE is critical to a community. Primary employers pay a significant portion of the property and sales taxes collected by various municipal entities. These tax dollars fund our schools, fire, police and EMS, our libraries and community colleges, parks, and conservation areas. 

When a primary employer leaves the community or chooses to expand elsewhere, we are all directly impacted by the decrease in tax revenues that fund our safety and quality of life.

Contact us at (815) 987-8118 to schedule a business retention and expansion visit.