Business and community leaders get excited as the Rockford Area Economic Development Council moves forward with the second phase of Rockforward.
Riding on a wave of success created by this first phase of Rockforward, RAEDC administrators make a change of pace for the program but agree it still starts in one place.
"Employers who are here and employers who come here want to hire the people that are here."
Rockford Area Economic Development Council President Janyce Fadden says there's reason to celebrate.
In 2012 the council announced nearly 3,000 new jobs and about half a billion dollars in capital investment planned. Fadden gives credit to the Rockforward project.
"Rockforward2 is going to be more focused on clusters. So we have the aerospace cluster and we're working on a hydraulics cluster and we're investigating right now into an information technology cluster," she said. "We want to create, we want to retain, we want to attract, we want to expand quality jobs for our region."
Fadden says that starts with the K-12 public school system.
The crowd agrees, as does incoming District 205 Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett. So much so, the district is extending its Rockforward relationship another three years.
"We've upped our commitment and we're going to be a part of the leadership council and we will be fully engaged in the process. It's all about creating an environment that's high quality in our education system so it's an attractive place for employers," said Jarrett.
That commitment includes furthering relationships with local higher education and training programs.
"We want our public schools to be a competitive advantage for our community. And we know we have some work to do in that front and we're committed to working with the community to make that happen, he said.
"The quality and the caliber and the capability of our current workforce comes from our education system," said Fadden.
At the meeting and dinner, outgoing RAEDC Board Chairman Bill Roop announced his replacement. That will be Joel Sjostrom.
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