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Winnebago County Business and Industry


Winnebago County has a legacy all its own of manufacturing strength and modern technology, as well as a diverse array of more than 15,000 businesses. Rockford is a center of manufacturing, employment and commerce for the more than 375,000 residents who live in or near the city. It remains an important manufacturing region with 1,400 companies producing goods in the three-county area of Winnebago, Boone and Ogle. It’s a world leader in the manufacture of machine tools and auto parts and is increasingly becoming recognized as an important center for aerospace components.

The manufacturing industry has withstood many economic challenges over the decades, including global competition, company relocation and the increasing challenge of state-imposed fees and regulations, but the sector continues to remain strong. The area’s economy has become more diverse with retail expansion providing government revenues through increased sales tax. Other sectors that contribute to the current economy include Automobile Production, Back Office Operations, Residential Housing and Commercial Construction, Hospital and Health-Related, and Government (state, local and federal).


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 enables scientists and researchers to study advanced manufacturing technologies, while start-up assistance for entrepreneurs and incubator space for new businesses is available at the facility.

Studies have identified three significant “cluster” industries as key growth targets for the county. These include: Logistics and Distribution, Food Processing and Aerospace Industry. Two additional industries that have been identified as important to the county include Alternative Energy and Value-Added Agriculture (Agri-business). Studies on the first three areas, funded by Winnebago County, have been completed by Northern Illinois University with specific community action steps for attracting businesses within those clusters.

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Edward Jones