contentsWinnebao County IL Regional Planning & EDCads

Winnebago County Economic Development

As the Chicago Metropolitan area becomes saturated with industrial development and traffic congestion, many businesses are looking west. Winnebago County houses the third largest city in Illinois and the fifth largest metropolitan statistical area in the state with regional population of 375,000. This area’s connectivity to the global economy provides many opportunities for economic development.

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The region is fully served by an airport that is the 19th fastest growing in the U.S., major interstate highways, the second largest UPS in the nation and freight service from three railroad lines. The area is also well served with electricity from ComEd, sewer from the Rock River Reclamation District (and other smaller sewer districts in the rural areas), water and a fiber optic ring in the Rockford area.

The I-39 Logistics Corridor encompasses 10,000 square miles and spans 165 miles from Janesville, WI, on the north to Bloomington, IL, on the south, and 65 miles from Sycamore, IL, on the east to Sterling, IL, on the west. It covers two states and 14 counties, with Winnebago County ideally situated at the northern end. This provides connection to I-90 to Chicago and Madison, WI; U.S.20 across the top of Illinois; and Highway 43 to Milwaukee. The I-39 Logistics Corridor is all about proximity, specifically proximity to everything of vital importance to logistics, manufacturing and other companies analyzing site criteria for the Chicago area, which handles more freight than any other city in the country.

Manufacturing companies in Winnebago County supply the world with precision cutting tools, fasteners (nuts, bolts, screws, nails, etc.), aerospace components, machine parts and automobiles. The EIGERlab, a newly created research and development center in Rockford, enables scientists and researchers from three Illinois universities and Alion Science and Technology to study advanced manufacturing technologies, such as micromachining. Start-up assistance for entrepreneurs and incubator space for new businesses are available in the facility.

Freedom Field is a new project for basic and applied energy-related research and development. Other possible business development projects include alternative fuels and titanium research and development. Other sectors that contribute to the current economy include Automobile Production, Back Office Operations, Residential Housing, Commercial Construction, Health Services and Government.

Lower business costs, the availability of land and relatively lower cost of living give Winnebago County a competitive advantage and attractiveness over nearby Chicago suburbs. A fiber optic ring will soon offer ample opportunities for high-speed connection. Communities within the county welcome business and are easy to work with. The county offers fast-track building-permit processing, low tax rates, advanced telecommunications infrastructure and significant capacities of water, electricity and natural gas.

The county’s workforce, - part-time, seasonal and full-time skilled and professional - are ready, willing and available at competitive wages. Our greatest asset is our value-added workforce and our legendary Midwest work ethic. The county has an abundance of raw land zoned industrial available for development, some within industrial parks. High-quality existing office and industrial facilities are available for purchase or lease.

The universities, private colleges, community colleges and technical schools within the region offer degree programs, custom-designed technical training and specialized business services. Rock Valley Community College, Rockford College and Northern Illinois University (Rockford and DeKalb), are the area’s prime recruitment resources.

Local economic development organizations, including the county’s Office of Regional Planning and Economic Development, city of Rockford Community Development department, rural community’s economic development staff and the Rockford Area Economic Development Corporation work together to retain existing businesses and attract new ones. Chamber of Commerce organizations in the county include the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce, Loves Park and Machesney Park Chamber of Commerce, Rockton Chamber of Commerce, Roscoe Chamber of Commerce and Winnebago Chamber of Commerce.

For further information, Contact:

Sue Mroz, Director
Regional Office of Planning and Economic Development
404 Elm Street, Room 403
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 319-4366
smroz@co.winnebago.il.us

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