Image Map

Author Archives: transformrockford

  • -

2018 Rockford Leadership Alliance

Rockford Leadership Alliance (RLA) is a focused, thematic leadership development program designed for business executives and high potential leaders in the Rockford region. RLA’s annual focus is oriented towards addressing critical leadership gaps identified in the Rockford business community.

The foundation for the experience is a six-session workshop series, starting in September of the year, complete with intense and intentional content, meaningful and actionable take-aways, skilled facilitators and peer learning.

Building on past topics of Trust & Organizational Health, the focus will turn to Accountability in 2018/2019. The program with kick off with a half-day workshop with Best-Selling Author Joseph Grenny and focus on his book Crucial Accountability.

To learn more and register please visit

  • -

2018 Global Leadership Summit

You have influence and the ability to positively impact your community and world. No matter where your influence is—in your family, school, work or church—when you commit to grow your leadership, everyone around you wins! Join 445,000+ people around the world for two days of world-class leadership training.

Experience this event in our region at:

ROCKFORD UNIVERSITY 5050 East State Street, Rockford, IL 61108.

Register Today at WILLOWCREEK.COM/SUMMIT or by calling 800-570-9812


  • -

Leadership Rockford 2018

Designed to provide a holistic understanding of the Rockford community, Leadership Rockford is an 8-month program suitable for emerging leaders, leaders new to the community, or leaders eager to become more involved in the Rockford region. Members of the class represent a wide range of backgrounds, organizations, and levels of experience. The diversity of the class forms a dynamic cross-section of personal and professional viewpoints and perspectives.

Whether a life-long resident of the community or a newcomer, Leadership Rockford provides each participant with an in-depth understanding of the local community, including its history, opportunities and successes.

The mission of Leadership Rockford is to build leadership skills and enhance awareness of business, government and civic issues through interaction and direct involvement with business and community leaders.

To learn more and register, please visit

  • -

Check out the new Great Neighborhoods Website!

The Great Neighborhoods project engages neighborhoods to focus on the assets that they have and to begin mapping them. Every neighborhood has attributes that make it a Great Neighborhood; things that make it great, unique, and desirable. Every neighborhood also has some challenges. We want to help recognize the good, and help you work with others to make what is good even greater, and work to resolve some of the challenges. It’s part of a mutual benefit that goes beyond an individual neighborhood and makes our community even greater. We have recently launched a website dedicated to the Great Neighborhoods project and includes many useful resources including a Resource Guide and a Neighborhood Directory. Please visit the Great Neighborhoods site at

  • -

Última Session De Visualizacíon De Las Communidad

Última Session De Visualizacíon De Las Communidad

Jueves, 17 de mayo a las 6 PM – 7:30 PM

Sucursal Montague,
1238 S. Winnebago Street, Rockford

Necesitamos sus ideas para planificar la Biblioteca principal de vanguardia de Rockford. Por favor, venga y díganos qué quiere de su biblioteca, qué es importante para usted y qué debemos incluir para servirle mejor a usted y su familia.

Envía tus ideas por correo electrónico

  • -

Stakeholder Focus:  Workforce Connection


As you may recall, the community’s vision anticipates a condition where
– all residents are leading successful and fulfilling lives,
– our workforce is sought after, and
– our economy is agile, innovative and strong.

Connecting our residents to opportunities for education, training and employment is foundational to achieving our vision. Several community organizations are involved with this work. One such organization is the Workforce Connection.

What is the Workforce Connection? The Workforce Connection is a partnership of employment and training programs, economic development agencies and educational entities committed to providing a workforce that meets the needs of the business community. It is a regional partnership that is committed to Boone, Winnebago and Stephenson counties. Much of the funding for the Workforce Connection comes from the federal and state governments.

Among other things, the Workforce Connection evaluates and monitors training programs and manufacturers so they can adequately match candidates to jobs as well as disburse money from the Federal Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Who leads the Workforce Connection? Lisa Bly became the Executive Director in December of 2017. Lisa has experience in education and workforce development and has worked for several years at the community college level in the Chicago area. She most recently served as Associate Vice President of workforce development, economic development and continuing education at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis.

Where is the Workforce Connection? The Workforce Connection maintains offices in Freeport, Rockford and Belvidere.

What else should we know? “We find out what the gaps are that employers have. What are their pain points? And we bring the educational providers together. Those federal dollars are put forward to address that need,” says Bly. “It needs to be an employer-led model.”

To learn more, visit the Workforce Connection website at

  • -

Advanced Manufacturing Fuels Transformation

Advanced manufacturing has long been an asset of the Rockford region – an asset to be nurtured and leveraged in our region’s transformation.

The region’s vision anticipates that advanced manufacturing is one of the economic drivers to bring needed resources to this region to fuel our transformation:

“We have an agile, innovative and strong economy built on the renaissance of North American manufacturing, logistics, agribusiness and our proximity to urban centers such as Chicago.”

Advanced manufacturing is already a major economic engine for the community.  The industry brings money in from outside the region for our world-class products and manufacturing services.

Many of our region’s jobs are tied to advanced manufacturing (20% by recent count).  Much of our region’s job growth in the post-recession recovery has come from manufacturing.  Since 2010 we have added 3,742 manufacturing jobs.

This growth makes the Rockford region an economic and manufacturing outlier in the state of Illinois.  24% of all Illinois manufacturing jobs added since 2010 are in the Rockford region.  Think about that.  A region with less than 3% of the state’s population has delivered almost one-quarter of the state’s post-recession manufacturing job growth.

So, where do we go from here?  How do we maintain momentum?

Advanced manufacturing is a business that needs people.  At any point, there are many unfilled positions in our region.  Getting our residents educated, trained and connected to these opportunities is key to maintaining the momentum and realizing that vision.

Key transformational projects to monitor in this area include Connecting Talent with Opportunity (a career pathway project involving local high schools and community colleges), the NIU @ RVC Engineering program (the launch of a Rockford-based engineering degree program), and the construction of a Rock Valley College Advanced Technology Center.

To learn more, please see the Project Dashboard or call 815-977-5840.

  • -

The Aerospace Cluster – A Thriving Economic Ecosystem

The Rockford region is home to one of America’s largest Aerospace clusters.  Over 100 manufacturers and service providers in the aerospace supply base call this region home.

These companies are collectively known for their ability to design, develop, manufacture, assemble, test and service many of the most sophisticated controls and systems in the aerospace industry.  The Rockford region is where many of the toughest aerospace challenges for efficiency and safety are solved.

Aerospace has been a robust market for the region to serve.   For years, there has been a large order backlog in the industry and heavy demand for improved performance with new generations of planes and control systems coming online.

Why Clusters Matter

In all industries and markets, much of the innovation is place-based – driven by face-to-face interactions, a network of relationships and suppliers, a common language, and the scale to create needed workforce development programs.  It also allows customers to efficiently visit and align multiple suppliers in a single trip.

Tending to a cluster – its needs and opportunities – can be rewarding for communities, too.  It can attract businesses to locate and grow here.

“Rockford is the perfect place for a company in our industry,” says Sagar Patel, President of Woodward’s Aircraft Turbine Systems business based in Rockford.  The robust local supply base “…makes our Rockford location a tremendous competitive advantage for Woodward,” he continued.

Maintaining the Cluster’s Momentum

The cluster is intentional about building its local network and aligning shared interests.  The region’s aerospace companies have formed the Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN).  The Rockford Area Economic Development Council serves as a facilitator for the network.

RAAN keeps the conversations going and builds shared agendas.  Topics include building a local supply chain, education programs that benefit the cluster, and specific business development and attraction needs and opportunities.

Together these companies and the community are building on a regional asset – and leveraging it for future transformation.

  • -

Transform Rockford announced its support for the March 20, 2018, referendum to restore home rule authority to the City of Rockford

ROCKFORD, IL. – Transform Rockford announced its support for the March 20, 2018, referendum to restore home rule authority to the City of Rockford. Leadership of the Transform Rockford movement also encourages the City’s voters to show their support for the referendum.

Why does Transform Rockford support the referendum and encourage others to support it?

  • Move authority from state to local government, where accountability and capacity is greater,
  • Accelerate the region’s transformation,
  • Publicly demonstrate our community’s desire to control its destiny. 
Read More

  • -

Linking Talent with Opportunity

The Transform Rockford movement is about connecting people with opportunities. And we believe great opportunities exist here in the region – opportunities for residents, visitors, and investors.

The Linking Talent with Opportunity project is all about connecting residents to career pathways that lead to successful and fulfilling careers. These pathways begin in middle school when students have a chance to become familiar with careers and think about their own talents and interests. The pathways accelerate in high school when students receive education and skills that prepare them for specific higher education tracks and/or employment opportunities.

Much of the work of the Linking Talent with Opportunity project is to align those higher education tracks (which can lead to degrees, certifications or other credentials) with the high school work into a regional set of pathways for the careers needed in our 21st-century economy. The goal is to create a seamless pathway experience for the student that leads to a fulfilling career opportunity.

This will be a good test of our region’s capacity for collaboration. The work has begun with a partnership among local community colleges and high schools. Launch partners include Rock Valley College, Highland Community College, Rockford Public Schools, Harlem School District, Belvidere School District and Hononegah Community School District.

Building and filling these career pathways with the region’s talented residents will provide an important economic development tool. “There is not a more significant opportunity and no higher priority in my view than workforce development,” said Nathan Bryant, president/CEO of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council.”

Funding for much of the work is coming from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, which made a three-year commitment for a total of $675,000 to make the goal a reality – its largest single commitment ever.

“(W)e see a rare and refreshing consensus among partners who have both the capacity and willingness to make change happen. Real and relevant design work has already been done, and the education partners have a plan to engage more school districts, continue design work and align with economic and workforce development partners for critical input.”

Connecting Talent with Opportunity is a significant part of the larger effort of building a top-notch workforce that attracts and grows investment, residents, and employers. Watch for other related efforts in coming months. As Doug Jensen, President of Rock Valley College and a Transform Rockford Steering Committee member, recently said, “I believe we will become a national center of workforce development excellence.”

Thank you to all of the partners joining the effort to make Linking Talent with Opportunity a success.

To learn more about the needs of the 21st-century economy, please view “Success in the New Economy” on YouTube