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Rockford Scanner™: State Grants to Spur Economic Development in Rockford Region

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State Grants to Spur Economic Development in Rockford Region


ROCKFORD, Ill. – The City of Rockford will benefit from nearly $300,000 worth of state grants to promote economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Region 1 Planning Council (R1), a special-purpose regional government agency providing cross-jurisdictional, government-to-government collaborative planning across Northern Illinois, will receive $148,916 to fund a regional industry cluster analysis that examines the workforce and business attraction needs of emerging industries, including electric vehicle manufacturing, renewable energy and innovative agriculture and information technology. The analysis will provide recommendations to ensure R1’s economic development, workforce and higher education partners can deploy the necessary tools to grow jobs and enhance economic development within Winnebago, Boone and McHenry Counties.


“We are grateful for the State of Illinois’ investment and DCEO’s support, as regional economic development planning is a primary function of Region 1 Planning Council,” said Isaac Guerrero, R1 Director of Economic Development Planning and Policy. “The RISE funding will allow economic development, workforce and higher education leaders to understand how to best attract private investment to our region. A focus on emerging industry clusters will ensure our region creates a plan that will provide economic relief from the pandemic and sustainable prosperity moving forward.”


In addition, the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will receive $150,000 to conduct a tourism recovery master plan that, once completed and implemented, will assist in the region’s recovery and make it more resilient to fluctuations in tourism, which will help increase employment opportunities, spur private investment and advance economic resiliency throughout the region. The plan will assess, consider and make recommendations and include items such as a product analysis and current asset inventory (including outdoor recreation offerings, hotel and meeting spaces, sports facilities, wayfinding, events and festivals, transportation assets, arts and culture, etc.), current visitor profiles and demographics report, destination performance benchmarking, future needs assessment, and recommendations for implementation.


“This RISE grant will allow the RACVB to create a plan to increase and improve the region’s tourism economy which, in turn, creates a stronger community to live and work in,” said RACVB president/CEO John Groh. “We are grateful to the State of Illinois for their confidence in RACVB to carry out this work.”


“I’m grateful to see these dollars coming into our community,” says Mayor Tom McNamara. “Creating both of these plans will help Rockford’s long-term economic recovery and improve quality of life in our community.”


“Funding our local government bodies allows them to continue to support families and businesses around the community,” says Senator Steve Stadelman. “These grant funds help develop and implement plans to address the pandemic’s impact on our communities and provide meaningful steps forward for families and businesses alike.”


The grants, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, are part of the Research in Illinois to Spur Economic Recovery (RISE) program administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. RISE empowers local governments and regional economic development organizations to create meaningful plans that align with the state’s overarching economic plan, with a focus on specific initiatives and investments that support recovery from the pandemic. After local plans are created, the state will offer grantees a competitive grant opportunity to apply for funding for specific projects included in their plans.

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