Rockford Region Defense Industry Profile Shows Steady Performance in DOD Related Economic Activity

A recent study sheds light on the state of the defense industry in the Rockford Region, detailing the steady economic activity in the defense sector from 2016-2020.

The Rockford Region Defense Industry Profile, which provides an overall understanding of Department of Defense (DOD) related economic activity in the region, was published by the UIC Voorhees Center, which is an applied research and technical assistance unit in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago.

On average, $471 million worth of DOD sales were made annually in the region from 2016-2020, which is 49 percent higher than the average from 2013-2017, which stood at $315 million. There were 86 regional establishments with DOD sales activity during the 2016-2020 period, growing from 54 establishments in 2013-2017.

The Rockford Region accounts for a small portion of DOD work performed in the Illinois Defense Network (IDN). Establishments in the Rockford Region performed 6.1 percent of DOD contracts during this period, which represents a considerable increase in the region’s share from 4.7 percent in 2013-2017.

The manufacturing sector has the highest share of establishments with DOD contracts. In 2020, 8 percent of all regional manufacturing establishments had at least one DOD contract. In terms of the industrial distribution of active defense contracts, the dominant industry is aircraft parts manufacturing. This suggests that establishments in this industry will continue to be the largest performers of defense contract work in the foreseeable future for the Rockford region.

With these findings, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), which also leads the Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN), a consortium of companies implementing a strategic plan to increase the competitiveness of the Rockford Region for aerospace expansion and attraction will continue to leverage the power of the regional collection of aerospace businesses to attract growth, optimize business competitiveness, and results.