When it comes to economic development, few ‘micropolitans’ do it better than Rochelle. Micropolitan describe rural communities with a population between 10,000 and 50,000. A national magazine recently recognized the Hub City as an ideal place for job growth. City leader says Rochelle’s location is key to its success.
“When a little town like Rochelle gets recognized by a national magazine it doesn’t happen by mistake,” said Economic Development Director for Rochelle Jason Anderson. Site Selection Magazine recognized Rochelle as one of three ‘micropolitian’ areas in Illinois ideal for business and job growth. “Not only do you have the technology and the innovation, but Rochelle also has the space.”
However, there’s more than just the space to build. It’s a hub for freight transportation.
“Moving freight, moving people, moving product fast efficiently and in and out is really the benefit that we offer anyone,” said Anderson. Rochelle’s 12-mile train track system connects two other freight train lines. The two biggest in the country, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific.
Location played a factor too. Rochelle is located off interstates 39 and 88 and is just 80 miles west of Chicago. Another criteria that helped Rochelle gain recognition are the businesses already in town, like lumberyards, construction of a new automatic storage retrieval system and other corporations. “All the infrastructure and the ability to attract big projects like this good jobs are created.” said Anderson.
In the past 15 years the city has spent $60 million in Federal and State money granted for economic development. And it’s worked, by attracting many manufacturing businesses to the area.
“What site selectors are looking for are those kind of ideal sites and Rochelle has those,” said Anderson.
Rochelle’s train lines is the next project they’re looking to expand, which costs about $7 million. A date is in the works for groundbreaking.