The Rockford Area Economic Development Council staff are 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.
RAEDC staff are experts in their fields and create relationships that benefit companies that are located here and companies that are looking to expand or relocate into the Rockford Region.
Don will use his operational skillset to help the RAEDC accomplish the goals established as a component of the Rockforward strategic plan. He will also work on connecting the dots between our business community’s needs and solutions that will ensure sustainable growth.
Prior to joining the RAEDC Don was the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at SwedishAmerican Health Systems (a Division of UW Health).
Don has obtained his MBA from Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science also from Ohio State University.
Don moved into the region in 1995 and is committed to the success of the region; currently serving on the Board of Trustees for the YMCA of the Rock River Valley and on the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee.
When not working Don is a huge sports fan and while he may not be great at it loves to play golf. He is also a history buff, especially American History.
Manager for Projects & Events
Anna is responsible for supporting the successful management of business recruitment and expansion projects in the Rockford Region and the implementation of RAEDC’s events and trade shows.
She also advances business development activities including the generation of data and analysis to help target prospective development and expansion projects in the region, preparing RFI responses, cluster development, and facilitating discussions through CORE conversations.
Working closely with the Rockford Area Aerospace Network and the Company Attraction Retention and Expansion Solutions Teams she makes their strategies and goals a reality.
Since 2018 Anna has been working on the Office of Economic Adjustment and Department of Defense grant for the RAEDC and in 2020 she took over responsibility for managing this grant and the EDA Cares grant received in the fourth quarter of 2020. She represents the RAEDC in the Illinois Defense Network.
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.
VP of Sales
Stephanie Jones, Vice President of Sales, is a results driven business and strategy professional who is an expert at identifying challenges and providing solutions. Stephanie works closely with site selectors, real estate brokers, international location advisors, and businesses to highlight the benefits of locating in the Rockford Region. She cultivates relationships with key stakeholders, strengthening the region’s outward- bound connections and business opportunities.
With a targeted industry approach, she oversees business attraction sales, marketing, and lead generation while continuously spreading the message about the Rockford Region as Your Opportunity Region.
Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Resource Management. She has a strong background in commercial real estate development and holds an Illinois Real Estate Brokers License. She spent eight years in the real estate department of Sears Holdings Corporation as the Director of Business Development where she led business attraction and expansion within the Sears and Kmart brands. She has worked closely with national and global brands such as Western Union, H&R Block, Lindt Chocolate, The Picture People, and many more brands to increase their revenue through business partnerships.
The RAEDC continues the work of Economic Development and 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.
Marketing and Communications Manager
As Communications and Marketing Manager, Erin supports the RAEDC and all of the RAEDC staff through communications, marketing, and PR initiatives. She is responsible for all levels of creating, coordinating, and implementing projects and programs that support business development; business attraction; business retention; regional branding; and other economic development programs or projects.
She is also responsible for online analytics and condensing large amounts of data and high-level concepts into bite-sized pieces of information, making economic development more accessible to a wider range of the community.
Since 2021 Erin has been working on the Office of Economic Adjustment and Department of Defense grant for the RAEDC and the EDA Cares grant received in the fourth quarter of 2020. She represents the RAEDC in the Illinois Defense Network.
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.
Lolita is the Executive 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, including 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 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 staff, 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.
Director of Investor Relations
Matt joined the staff of the Rockford Area Economic Development council in 2021. As the Director of Investor Relations, Matt is responsible for fund development and revenue generation, working towards sustaining and increasing investments in the RAEDC. By networking with local business and community leadership, Matt builds relationships designed to generate a better understanding of the organization’s mission, needs, and strategic plan to provide appropriate engagement in successful client projects.
As a lifelong resident of Rockford, Matt is committed to the success of the region. Prior to joining the RAEDC staff, Matt worked in the Rockford Region’s not-for-profit sector for over 10 years, where he focused on investor engagement and relationship building.
Matt graduated from Boylan High School in 2004, he then went on to Northern Illinois University where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism in 2008.
Matt enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, and cheering for the Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and Hawks. He hopes to see a Bears Super Bowl victory in his lifetime, but as all Bears fans know, don’t hold your breath.