Celebrating Rockford’s Manufacturing Legacy, Excellence, and Future

Manufacturing Awareness Month is happening right now, and it provides us a time to acknowledge and appreciate the significance of manufacturing, particularly in the Rockford region. It has played a pivotal role in shaping our identity and economy and that should be celebrated.

This reputation has been built over generations of dedicated craftsmen and women who have honed their skills to perfection and can be traced back to the 19th century when it was a bustling center for furniture production. The region’s commitment to hard work, skilled labor, and solutions laid the foundation for a thriving manufacturing sector. As time progressed, Rockford’s manufacturers diversified and embraced emerging technologies, evolving into the advanced manufacturing hub we see today. From our roots in furniture making to advanced manufacturing, machining, automation, and metalwork, our economic development leaders are proud to encourage and support local manufacturers to ensure their continued success.

Approximately 25,000 people are employed in manufacturing in the Rockford region, contributing significantly to our economic vitality. Moreover, 21.67% of businesses in the region are manufacturing companies, underlining the substantial presence and importance manufactures play in our local business landscape. These industries have not only provided stable employment for the local workforce but have also attracted investment and talent from across the nation.

We are committed to ensuring the continued success of local manufacturers. We strive to foster an environment where manufacturers can thrive and grow by facilitating partnerships, offering resources, and advocating for policies that support the needs of the manufacturing community.

In celebration of Manufacturing Awareness Month, we will host and attend a series of events focused on growing our manufacturing workforce. At the beginning of October, we’ve partnered with IMEC to host an online webinar aimed at helping manufacturers find a talented and dedicated workforce by using economic trends and forecasting to drive staffing decisions.

Our team also attended the grand opening of The GRID at Collins Aerospace, a $50 million state-of-the-art electric power systems lab that will develop high-power, high efficiency electric motors, motor controllers, generators, and distribution systems for the next generation of commercial and military aircraft.

We’re also attending the 2023 Academy Expo hosted by Rockford Public Schools, giving freshman students the chance to learn about different career paths and engage with more than 100 local business partners. On National Manufacturing Day, RAEDC will participate in the Career Education Associates of North Central Illinois (CEANCI) career day at Rockford Career College to help local school students learn about manufacturing and expose them to career opportunities.

These events serve as an example of the keyways as how we support manufacturers and collaborate with educational institutions and training providers to ensure that local talent has the skills necessary to excel in modern manufacturing.

As we celebrate Manufacturing Awareness Month, it’s clear that the Rockford region’s manufacturing sector is more than just a part of our history; it’s a dynamic and vital component of our future. Companies that invest and expand in the Rockford region are not just benefiting from a strong local workforce and infrastructure but also tapping into a legacy of innovation, quality, and productivity.

Manufacturers in our region are driving economic growth, providing well-paying jobs, and contributing to the overall prosperity of the community; they deserve to be celebrated.

We encourage you to take the opportunity this October to recognize and commemorate the manufacturers across our region. These businesses are the backbone of our economy, and their contributions extend far beyond the factory floor. The Rockford region’s rich history and commitment to manufacturing ensures that the legacy of hard work and success will continue to benefit the region for generations to come.