Meet our Staff


The Rockford Area Economic Development Council employs economic development professionals focused on serving clients, investors, and partners. RAEDC staff work with regional economic development partners to cultivate opportunities for primary job growth that increase the economic well-being of our region.

Nathan Bryant

President & CEO

nathan_bryant - RAEDC President and CEO
Nathan Bryant
President & CEO

As President & Chief Executive Officer of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), Nathan is responsible for managing all the organization’s efforts, including business retention and expansion, new business recruitment, and improvement of our regional business climate. In his role for the RAEDC, Nathan serves on several community boards, including the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Alignment Rockford, and Stateline Angels.

Prior to joining the RAEDC, Nathan most recently served as the President of Development for Spring Creek Development Group in which he was responsible for deal procurement, financial modeling, leasing, sales, marketing, acquisitions, municipal agreements, and overall management assistance.

Throughout his career, Nathan has transacted a variety of deals encompassing almost every aspect of real estate and business. Nathan has successfully crafted over $100M of public/private partnerships in over 50 different communities involving complicated financial structures with critical delivery schedules.

As a licensed Professional Engineer and Real Estate Broker, Nathan brings a unique approach to every aspect of business with a focus on data-driven decisions.  During his professional career, Nathan has developed real estate for many of the top Fortune 50 companies including but not limited to Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Target, Home Depot, and Lowes.

Nathan graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering and subsequently became licensed as a Professional Engineer. He has been licensed as a Real Estate Managing Broker for over fifteen years, as well as being a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), and credentialed as a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM).

Nathan is a longtime advocate for the community and an early adopter of charter schools. In 2009, Nathan led the formation of the Rockford Charter School Organization of which he’s presided as the Board President since its inception.


Jarid Funderburg

Vice President of  Business & Investor Relations

Jarid Funderburg - VP of Business and Investor Relations
Jarid Funderburg
VP of Business & Investor Relations

As Vice President of Business & Investor Relations, Jarid will be working with existing companies to provide business solutions and develop greater interconnectivity for businesses within our region. He will also be responsible for working with existing investors of the organization and developing new investor relationships within the community.

As our region continues to collaborate and cultivate opportunities for primary job growth having Jarid in the role will allow the region to do the daily work of economic development needed to become a Top-25 community.

Jarid is the staff liaison for Leadership Council, which manages the Emerging Opportunities Fund (EOF). This fund provides seed money for strategically aligned programs that will benefit our region.

Jarid has a Bachelor of Science degree focusing on Economics and Organizational Communication from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. He was raised in the greater Rockford area and is committed to the success of our region. He’s an active golfer belonging to the Aldeen Men’s Golf Association and a 3rd generation scow sailor, racing every weekend available.


Anna Garrison

Manager for Projects & Events

RAEDC Staff - Anna Garrison
Anna Garrison
Manager, Projects & Events

Anna is responsible for assisting with the successful management of business recruitment and select expansion projects in the Rockford Region, and implementation of RAEDC’s hosted events and attended events/trade shows.

The Manager for Projects and Events manages the selection of facilities and associated vendors, plans details from origination to clean-up, coordinates invitees, event timing, and assists the VP of Business and Investor Relations with budgeting for events.

Anna also provides support for business development activities including the generation of data and analysis to help target prospective development and expansion projects in the region, assisting with the preparation of RFI responses, and facilitating discussions through CORE conversations.

Anna earned her Bachelor of Arts from Carroll University. She grew up in Rockford and returned to the region in 2008. Anna joined the organization in 2017 with prior experience in marketing, communication, and administration.


Erin Marshall

Marketing and Communications Manager

RAEDC Staff - Erin Marshall
Erin Marshall
Marketing & Communications Manager

As Communications and Marketing Manager, Erin supports the Vice President of Investor Relations through communications, marketing, and PR initiatives. She is responsible for assisting at all levels with general responsibilities that include: creating, coordinating and implementing projects and programs that support business development; business attraction; business retention; regional branding; and other economic development programs or projects.

Erin previously worked as the Web Administrator for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and is credited with starting the social network activities for the organization. During her tenure, Erin also oversaw the redevelopment of 6 websites.

She holds a pMBA from The University College of the Cayman Islands along with a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. She has presented her thesis “The Impact of Social Media When Selecting a Vacation Destination” at the UCCI 20/20 Conference and has been a speaker at the Cayman Islands Government Human Resource Professionals Summit.

Erin returned to the Rockford area in July 2015 after living overseas for the past 15 years.


Lolita Pettigrew

Administrative Assistant

Lolita Pettigrew
Lolita Pettigrew
Administrative Assistant

Lolita is the Administrative Assistant for the RAEDC, she is responsible for the daily work of ensuring the office runs smoothly. Lolita will coordinate with investors and the VP of Business & Investor Relations. She will assist with key events, and oversee the updating of the organization’s contact management database. Additionally, she will provide support to the Rockforward! Leadership Council.

Lolita is currently raising three beautiful children. During her 10-year service in the US Army, Lolita completed multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. Lolita is involved in several ministries at Pilgrim Baptist Church, to include the Program Ministry, Tots Nursery Ministry, and Mission Possible Ministry. Lastly, she enjoys spending time with her family and traveling with her kids to their various extra-curricular activities.


Gerald “Jerry” Sagona 

Vice President of Business Development

Gerald Jerry Sagona - VP of National Business Development
Jerry Sagona
VP of Business Development

Gerald Sagona (Jerry) joined the staff of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council in 2016. As the Vice President of Business Development, Jerry is responsible for the overall leadership of business attraction, expansion, and retention activities in the Rockford region. In this role, he serves as the liaison between the Rockford Region and the National, Chicagoland, and Winnebago County real estate communities, global site selectors, and private companies considering first time investment in the Rockford Region. Jerry is the Executive Director of the I-39 Logistics Corridor Association, staff liaison for the Company Attraction Retention and Expansion (CARE) committee, and is actively involved in the Chicagoland real estate communities through his memberships with AIRE, SIOR, and NAIOP.

Prior to joining the RAEDC, Jerry enjoyed a 30-year professional local government management career including over 23 years of service as the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) in two Chicagoland communities. Jerry has extensive professional training and experience in managing local government activities in the areas of community and economic development, public infrastructure development, and municipal finance. This experience allows Jerry to assist the business community with his talents including proforma construction expense and incentive analysis, and the full-cycle real estate entitlement process.

Jerry is a lifelong resident of the Rockford region and has developed relationships with many of the businesses, local governments, and community stakeholders in the region. After graduating from Boylan Catholic High School, Jerry obtained his Associate in Art Degree with distinction from Rock Valley College, and his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Public Administration degrees at Northern Illinois University.