Automotive Industry Heavily Represented In Rockford Area

Cluster Icons-automotive-blueThe automotive industry is one of the most important industries in the United States. Illinois is one of the nation’s largest auto producers, employing more than 35,000 people at 320-plus firms and supporting more than 1,000,000 jobs in related industries.

Central Location

Northern Illinois has an ideal business climate for automotive and on & off road vehicle plants and suppliers. The large and small corporations that call it home take advantage of its central location. And, it boasts an excellent rail, air, and road transportation system that makes it easy to reach Midwestern, North American and worldwide markets.

Supportive Business Environment

The U.S. Customs Port of Entry in Rockford and foreign-trade zone (FTZ #176) benefits help reduce costs for automotive and on & off road vehicle companies that do business globally. Local governments understand and support these industries. Utilities are robust and reliable, and available in conjunction with improved sites.

Major Players

Fiat and Ford have major manufacturing plants in northern Illinois. Chrysler (now Fiat) invested more than $450 million into its Belvidere plant and relocated seven suppliers to support this plant. Northern Illinois also boasts the corporate headquarters and manufacturing plants of Caterpillar, the largest manufacturer of construction equipment in the world, and John Deere & Co., the largest manufacturer of tractors and agricultural equipment in the world.

Consider Rockford Area

Rockford, a world leader in the production of machine tools, auto parts and primary and fabricated metals has a well-developed local infrastructure that supports the growing international trade of auto and on & off road vehicle parts.

This rich cluster of transportation manufacturers makes the Rockford Area highly attractive to other transportation, manufacturing, and R&D-related employers.

Strengths In Local Cluster

  • Highly skilled workforce
  • Access to R&D, engineering, and technical talent
  • Access to air, land, sea transportation
  • Short distance to auto plants
  • Good regional suppliers
  • Large, critical mass of companies
  • Access to supply chain and component manufacturers
  • Good job and wage impact
  • Training and higher education access
  • High quality of life and culture
  • Available cargo and passenger air service – Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

Concentrated Manufacturing Talent Above National Average

  • 7.2 times, Machinery Manufacturing employment and R&D
  • 4.2 times, Metals Manufacturing and R&D
  • 3.4 times, Transportation Equipment Manufacturing and R&D
  • 1.5 times above the Illinois average in engineer employment

Leading Manufacturing Community

  • 1st in aerospace manufacturing in Illinois
  • 2nd in manufacturing employment in Illinois
  • 2nd in “on & off” road vehicle manufacturing in Illinois
  • 2nd in industrial machine manufacturing in Illinois


  • Well established regional supply chains
  • Good labor/management relations
  • Large regional location activity
  • Good job and wage impact