Rockford-area business and community leaders come together once a year to share an update on the local economy. Wednesday night, they all gathered for a dinner. Leaders say they feel Rockford is becoming more and more competitive in the business world.
“We’ve done a very good job as a community of moving forward,” said President and CEO of The Rockford Area Economic Development Council Nathan Bryant. He says the Rockford area has a lot of success to acknowledge. Including recognition for being top ten in housing, job growth, integration, healthcare access and affordability. However, Bryant says the region needs to be ready for changes. “We need to understand where the global economy is going to be and that’s how we’re going to succeed in the future,” said Bryant. “[By] figuring out where that global economy is at and figure out how we are intentional about connecting into it.”
Recently, big name stores have left store fronts vacant. Bryant says the RAEDC sees this as an opportunity. “We sit in a place in the world that’s exceptional we’re 90 miles away from Chicago,” said Bryant. “We have the benefits of the Chicago market in a way, in which, the world can recognize us. We’re in a very easy living hardworking community that’s right here in the City of Rockford.” The hardworking community lies within many industries, most prominent is in manufacturing with over 100 businesses dedicated to aerospace.
“You look at where the industry is at right now, we see the demand growing and growing through our airframes,” said Director of International/National – Regional Business Jet Programs at UTC Aerospace Eric Cunningham. The demand calls for continuous investment in training and facilities. “We have a lot of that supply here in Rockford,” said Cunningham. “As we go forward, we’re going to see the demand for that and a lot of opportunity for those local businesses to expand the footprint they have here.”
RAEDC plans to continue work with businesses to help them keep pace with the evolving economy. The council believe the regions proximity to resources will allow companies to expand even during down times.