RAEDC study identifies top three industries

The top three industries that best fit the Rockford area’s strengths were identified and an analysis of the food processing industry was given at a Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) member meeting March 15 at Ramada Plaza.

Target industry analysis prepared by Carter & Burgess, Inc.

A report given by Carter & Burgess, Inc., a national site selection and architectural / engineering firm that was contracted by the RAEDC to complete an economic development plan for the Rockford area, listed the following as the top three industries in Rockford:

Transportation, equipment manufacturing and research & development (includes automotive, aerospace and others);

Industrial machinery manufacturing and research & development; and


The group also listed the following top three sub-industries to pursue in the Rockford area:

Aerospace production and research & development;

Industrial machinery manufacturing and research & development; and

Distribution centers.


Rockford was compared to Chicago, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Iowa, Toledo, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Ind., in studying strengths and weaknesses. The findings included the following:

Rockford’s labor costs are lower than Chicago and Milwaukee, but are higher than Des Moines, Toledo and Fort Wayne. Rockford’s labor availability is above average.

Rockford has plenty of manufacturing engineering talent.

Rockford’s transportation equipment labor quality is very good.

Rockford’s overall manufacturing quality is among the best in the country, and, in some cases, the world.

Machine tool, aerospace and related engineering skills in Rockford are among the highest in the world.

Comprehensive industry analysis: Food processing industry by NIU Outreach

Results of an analysis of the food processing industry were also given at the RAEDC member meeting by Northern Illinois University Outreach, which was contracted by Winnebago County on behalf of the RAEDC.

The primary conclusions of this analysis were as follows:

The food processing industry can help increase the stability of the regional economy.

Winnebago County has significantly higher regional value-added for food processing than Illinois or the U.S.

Advancements in automation and technology are reducing both the level of skills and the number of workers needed.

The industry is relatively stable with good wages, high productivity and high value-added.

What’s next?

The RAEDC Business Attraction Solutions Team, with Chairman Frank Walter, regional president of JP Morgan Chase, will work to accomplish the following:

Develop a proactive marketing plan for the target industries;

Coordinate with the Rockford Area Association of Realtors to improve land and building data;

Generate a labor force analysis for the region; and

Fill the skilled-worker gap by coordinating with allies to educate students about career opportunities in manufacturing.

Copies of the complete reports by Carter & Burgess, Inc., and NIU Outreach are available online at or by calling 987-8118.


The primary role of RAEDC is to market the Rockford area and help employers retain and create quality jobs. The RAEDC learns what employers need to grow, introduces them to potential resources and facilitates multi-agency coordination.

From the April 5-11, 2006, issue

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