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The Aerospace Cluster – A Thriving Economic Ecosystem

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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.