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
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 most 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.
Chelsea Fray Operations Manager
As the operations manager for the RAEDC, Chelsea is responsible for the daily work of ensuring the office runs smoothly, managing accounts receivable, coordinating and assisting with key events, and overseeing the maintenance of the organization’s contact management database. She also provides support to the Rockforward! Leadership Council.
Chelsea grew up in Rockford and attended Boylan High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree, as well as a Nonprofit Leadership Development Certification, from Augustana College and earned her Masters of Arts degree from Illinois State University.
Prior to joining the RAEDC staff in 2017, Chelsea supported the organization for several years in an internship capacity. Most recently Chelsea held an investor research and proposal specialist position at Rockford University, as well as holding marketing and public relations positions in western Illinois. Chelsea has also served in various nonprofit Board and mentorship roles, as well as assisting with event planning and organization.
Jarid Funderburg Vice President 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
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.
Stephanie Jones Vice President of Sales
Stephanie Jones, Vice President of Sales will be working with site selectors, real estate brokers, international location advisors, and businesses to highlight the benefits of locating in the Rockford Region.
With a targeted industry approach, she will oversee business attraction sales, marketing, and lead generation while continuously spreading the message about the Rockford Region as Your Opportunity Region.
The RAEDC continues the work of Rockforward20/20 which extends through December of 2020. The role of VP of Sales is critical to ensuring the region continues to demonstrate a history of delivering successes.
Stephanie loves spending time with family and cooking for large family gatherings. In addition to family, she loves the outdoors either hiking, gardening, spending time on the water, or simply exploring new places.
Erin Marshall Marketing and 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.
Gerald “Jerry” Sagona Vice President of Business Development
Gerald “Jerry” Sagona joined the staff of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) in October of 2016. As the Vice President of Business Development, Jerry manages business attraction outreach efforts and area marketing projects. He serves as the liaison between the Rockford Region and the national real estate community, global site selectors, and private companies considering first time investment in the Rockford Region. Jerry is a lifelong resident of the Rockford area and has a relationship with many of the stakeholders the RAEDC works with on a daily basis.
Prior to joining the RAEDC, Jerry was the Village Administrator for twenty years in the Village of Lake in the Hills, Illinois, located in southeastern McHenry County. In this capacity, Jerry managed village operations including Public Works, Finance, Community Development, Police, Parks & Recreation, and a reliever airport. He has extensive experience in community and economic development, municipal finance, and developing capital improvement plans. During Jerry’s tenure, Lake in the Hills experienced very rapid residential growth as Jerry oversaw industrial and commercial development activities within the Village. He coordinated the entitlement process and extension of utilities to several industrial development sites along the Illinois Route 31 corridor. His work in commercial development along the Randall Road corridor included attracting a Costco wholesale club and a Lowes’s home improvement center to the Village. Preceding his work in Lake in the Hills, Jerry was the Village Administrator in Wauconda, Illinois, and also worked with the Illinois communities of Lincolnwood, DeKalb, and Barrington during his 30 year municipal career.
Jerry obtained his Associate in Art Degree at Rock Valley College, and his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Public Administration degrees at Northern Illinois University. He achieved Credentialed Manager status in the International City/County Management Association, and has served as a Board Member of the Illinois City Management Association and President of the Metropolitan Managers Association. Jerry is actively involved in various community service functions, and has served in club leadership positions with organizations including Rotary International, Kiwanis International, and the Lions Clubs International.