Logistics and Distribution

Cluster Icons-logistics-blueThe Rockford Region of Illinois is a proven location for the globally expanding logistics industry. Countless companies have chosen to locate and expand their warehouse, distribution and logistics service operations in the area over the last 10 years:

  • 650 million pounds of landed weight at RFD during Q3 of 2020; a 14% increase over the same time period in 2019.
  • Chicago Rockford International Airport is the Fastest Growing Airport in the World (2018)
  • PrimeAir has expanded its operations at the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD)
  • RDF is now in the Top 20 cargo airports in the US. More than 2.1 billion pounds of cargo moved through the airport in 2018, a nearly 55% increase compared to 2017.
  • UPS made Rockford has invested $15 Million in an additional expansion at the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD);
  • Expansions by Berner Foods and Siffron added 1,000,000 sqft of space to the region in 2018 & 2019.
  • Other successful logistics operations include UPS, Fed-Ex, Meibord, Pierce Distribution, YRC Freight, Americold, Con-way Freight, CH Robinson, and Landstar Inway.

These companies continue to choose the Rockford Region because of its strengths in Location, Logistics and Labor.

Located 60-90 minutes from Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison, a facility in the Rockford Region can easily serve millions of residents and hundreds of thousands of businesses:

50 miles1.8 million112,000
100 miles13.4 million828,000
150 miles16.7 million1 million
200 miles22 million1.4 million
250 miles28.9 million1.9 million

To give you a feel for how quick your drive can be:

  • 60 minutes to Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • 90 minutes to Chicago’s Central Business District
  • 90 minutes to Milwaukee’s Business District
  • Less than 90 minutes to Madison
  • 120 minutes to the Quad Cities and Bloomington, Illinois

“70 in 5”

The Rockford Region’s market access is complemented by the ability for trucks to be driving “70 in 5,” or 70 mph within five minutes of departing the loading dock. With completely uncongested highways, the region’s transportation infrastructure includes:

    The Rockford Region has easy access to I-90, I-39, I-43 and I-88. I-39 is Chicago’s only uncongested north-south interstate and provides further access to I-74, I-55, I-70, I-57 and I-64.
    The Rockford Region is home to more than 40 freight carriers, including major logistics firms like UPS, FedEx, Con-way Freight, YRC Freight, USF Holland and Landstar Inway, as well as independent carriers.
    Four class one railroads provide service to the Rockford area. They are the BNSF, UP, CN and CP. In addition the region is served by the short line, Illinois Railway. This presence insures coast-to-coast and international access.


The area enjoys great access to four international airports.

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) was recently named the best cargo airport in its class by Air Cargo World magazine. With UPS’s second-largest North American hub, RFD is the 19th largest cargo airport in the country, and has the infrastructure to support much more air freight and related activity.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is an hour away from the Rockford Region. O’Hare is the only dual-hub airport in the U.S., and is one of the world’s busiest airports with direct flights to all major business cities in the world. O’Hare is also the fifth-busiest air cargo airport in the U.S.

Other viable nearby options include Mitchell International Airport (MKE), 90 minutes from Rockford, and Midway Airport (MDW), two hours away.

Labor Strength

The Rockford Region has the workforce you’re looking for. The two-county Rockford Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has a primary labor force of 176,700. Rockford’s secondary labor shed extends even farther, with 228,600 workers within 30-40 minutes.

Existing employers noted “the great work ethic and labor pool here” in the FCG analysis. Some other comments from employers about labor availability and quality include:

  • “Highly experienced management and supervisors.”
  • “Rockford has a great skill base and a great work ethic and even has diversity!”
  • “It is a great place to do business, airport is great, and it is a central location with great employees and definitely many educational opportunities.”
  • “People in the Rockford Area know how to work!”

Approximately 11,000 people are working in transportation, warehousing and wholesale trade industries in the Rockford MSA as of 2014, according to Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

Approximately 18,000 people work in the following relevant occupations in the Rockford MSA:

  • Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand – 4,852
  • Customer Service Representatives – 3,227
  • Sales Representatives, Services or Wholesale and Manufacturing – 3,002
  • Stock Clerks and Order Fillers – 2,329
  • Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers – 1,355
  • Packers and Packagers, Hand – 1,259
  • Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers – 1,252
  • Shipping, Receiving and Traffic Clerks – 999

As well, the prevalence of major logistics companies currently operating in the Rockford Region provides a deep pool of talent, trained and ready for companies.