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.
Therese Thill has more than 23 years of economic and community development experience with a track record of success in business retention, expansion, and attraction projects that retained and created jobs and brought new capital investment into the community.
As President of the RAEDC, Therese will lead economic development strategy for the region and will focus her efforts on engaging with site selectors, company executives, business owners, brokers, and public officials to encourage companies to locate or expand in the region. She also will concentrate on assisting existing primary employers in the region with resources for sustainable growth.
Prior to joining the RAEDC Therese was working with The Right Place, Inc. located in Grand Rapids, MI. She also held roles with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and the Oakland (Michigan) County Planning and Economic Development Services Department.
Therese has earned the Economic Development Master Practitioner certification, and in 2018, she was the recipient of the Economic Developer of the Year Award from the Michigan Economic Developers Association.
She has her MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Michigan.
When she isn’t at work, Therese enjoys sailing her 33’ Pacific Seacraft and is pursuing her Coast Guard captain’s license. She lives with Nick, a Weimaraner, who enjoys napping, treats, and slow walks.
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.
Business Development Manager
Alex Keedi, Business Development Manager, will focus on creating connecting with regional businesses and conducting business retention visits. In addition to this responsibility, Alex will also stay apprised of governmental business support and incentive programs, identify business growth projects, and help identify economic assistance and financial resources for business expansions and relocations.
Alex has been a lifelong Rockford resident and learned early on the importance of a thriving community at the individual and economic levels. With the sole intention of serving his hometown, he attended Northern Illinois University and obtained a B.A. in Psychology.
Prior to joining RAEDC, Alex served in the Non-Profit sector wearing many hats with various organizations. These roles provided him the opportunity to network and create relationships with various stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels. Bringing supportive and self-sufficiency programming, resources and federal dollars to underserved populations.
In his free time, Alex loves to spend time in nature, attend live music shows wherever they may be, and lives peacefully with his 10-Year-old Great Dane, Prince.
Marketing and Communications Director
As Communications and Marketing Director, 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.
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.