Meet our Chairman

Letter From Chairman Of The Board, Sagar Patel

Sagar Patel photo croppedI am fortunate and energized to lead the Rockford Area Economic Development Council board of directors at a time of great momentum in the Rockford Region.

More than 10,000 jobs have been created or retained since 2010. We’ve landed multiple “once-in-a-lifetime” projects alongside a number of other diverse, important regional project wins. And we have community enthusiasm and engagement like never before.

The Rockford Region can capitalize on major strengths. To mention just a few:

  • Our 24/7 international airport’s runways can accommodate the largest planes flying today. RFD not only offers free parking and passenger service but also has grown into the country’s 25th largest cargo hub.
  • Our proximity to Chicago is attractive for both business and pleasure, enhanced by the expanded tollway for even quicker, easier travel.
  • Our growing two-state Rockford Area Aerospace Cluster is recognized globally with 11 Tier-1 companies and more than 250 firms overall; 5 of those Tier-1 companies are in Winnebago County.
  • Downtown Rockford has become a magnet of activity, from popular events like City Market and Stroll on State to hotel/apartment development to the rebirth of a train depot here.

Attitudes are changing, too, as evidenced by the positive community-wide ownership of Transform Rockford. We have not settled for business as usual. And we cannot settle moving forward. We have more work to do.

Public-private collaboration is critical. Our ability to pull together — to find common ground and compromises for the greater good — can make or break our progress. We know what is possible through our work together so far through the RAEDC. Staff, investors, government and business leaders, solutions teams, educational institutions, regional partners and the community at large have positioned the Rockford Region for economic growth.

To reflect that all-inclusive approach, we need a strong regional identity. We need to brand ourselves differently. We are not just one city or county. We stretch across the Rock River Valley and Northern Illinois. So we need to find the right words to encompass our reach and capture our spirit.

Thank you for your commitment to collaboratively improving our economic strength at all levels and propelling the Rockford Region’s competitive edge. Now, more than ever, your continued support is vital.


Sagar Patel
Chairman of the Board, RAEDC
President, Aircraft Turbine Systems, Woodward, Inc.