Land ready for commercial and industrial development more than tripled in 2011 in the Rockford Region.

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Meet Our Staff

The Rockford Area Economic Development Council employs economic development professionals focused on serving clients, investors, and partners.  Meet our staff below...


Mike Nicholas


As President of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Mike is responsible for managing all the organization’s efforts, including business retention and expansion, new business recruitment, business start-up and entrepreneurship, and improvement of our regional business climate. In his role for the RAEDC, Mike serves on several community boards, including the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Alignment Rockford, Rockford Area Strategic Initiatives, and Stateline Angels.

Prior to joining the RAEDC, Mike held senior managerial roles for Fiberesin Industries, Lakewood Holdings, Pride Communications, Suntronic Technology Group, Sun Electric, and Mark Controls. Most recently, he served as President & CEO of Continental Datalabel in Elgin.

Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, as well as his Master of Science degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering, from Illinois Institute of Technology. He also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Chicago. Mike and his wife come to the Rockford area from Crystal Lake, IL.






Mark Podemski

Vice President for Development

As Vice President for Development for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), Mark is responsible for assisting clients with business expansion and retention efforts. 

Prior to joining the RAEDC staff in February of 2005, Mark held several leadership positions during his 19-year career at Honeywell International in product and engineering management, factory operations, sales, and business development. In 2004, Mark established a management-consulting company focused on assisting clients with performance-improvement approaches.

Mark serves on the Boone and Winnebago Workforce Investment Board and chairs the Business Relations Committee. Mark is also the current Chairman of the Chicago chapter of the Swedish American Chambers of Commerce (SACC) and he serves on the SACC USA Board and Executive Committee.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Master of Business Administration degree from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.






Carrie Zethmayr

Executive Director, Trade and Investment

Carrie manages initiatives to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and increase regional exports . Carrie also manages Foreign Trade Zone #176 (FTZ), an important tool to manage international supply chains.

With extensive networks in China and Western Europe, Carrie develops and manages relationships with international trade partners. Carrie assists in developing international marketing strategies based on the Rockford Area’s industry clusters, and manages FDI client projects. As Director of the IL SBDC International Trade Center, Carrie consults Rockford area companies on export growth, facilitates international B2B matchmaking, and organizes the annual Go Global international trade conference.  Collaborating with public and private partners, Carrie organizes international trade missions to China and Western Europe to promote the Rockford region as a location for foreign direct investment and to assist local companies to connect with foreign markets.

Carrie expects to graduate from Thunderbird School of Global Management in 2015 with an MBA in Global Management. She graduated from Beloit College with a degree in Modern Languages and Asian Studies. In 2006 and 2007 she lived in Jinan, China where she studied Chinese language and culture. Carrie speaks both Mandarin and French.





Leilani Hillis

Manager of Operations

As Manager of Operations for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Leilani is responsible coordinating the daily operations of the organization including the finance and HR duties. She provides support to the President and RAEDC management staff, as well as supporting events and various marketing projects. Leilani acts as staff liaison to the RAEDC Board of Directors, including Audit and Nominating Committees. 

Leilani joined the RAEDC in October of 2000, with several years of customer service experience. She represents the organization as a Certified Notary Public.






Jimsi Kuborn

Director of Investor Relations

As Director of Investor Relations for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Jimsi is responsible for leading the organization’s fund development and investor relations, as well as leading the Rockforward2! campaign. Jimsi serves as the staff liaison to the RAEDC Business and Community Relations Solutions Team, and represents the RAEDC throughout the community in various roles.

Prior to joining the RAEDC, this “boomerang” started her career locally in the real estate sector, with more recent engagements among non-profit organizations and business associations in Chicago and the Northwestern portion of the U.S. Jimsi held several leadership roles in marketing, management, and business development; and most recently, she served as Director of Marketing and PR for Chicago Opera Theater.

Jimsi earned her Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Merchandising from Northern Illinois University, specializing in marketing.  Jimsi has served on the boards of the Boise Young Professionals and Opera Idaho with additional civic and leadership roles with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra-Overture Council, League of Chicago Theaters, Step Up Women’s Network-Chicago, League of American Orchestra, Trey McIntyre Project, Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, Ada County Association of Realtors, Rockford Area Association of Realtors, DeKalb Area Association of Realtors, Realtors Political Action Committee, and the Women’s Council of Realtors.




Terrance hall

Business Development Specialist

As Business Development Specialist, Terrance is a primary resource in support of the organization’s Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) efforts. This includes fostering relationships with hundreds of our region’s primary employers on an annual basis through Voice of the Customer client visits and working toward objectives set forth by the BRE Solutions Team.

Prior to joining RAEDC, Terrance worked as a Research Associate on the Rockford region’s first Regional Plan for Sustainable Development under the direction of the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Rockford Region Economic Development District.

Terrance graduated from the University of Illinois- Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning- completing advanced course work in economic development planning and environmental planning.





Teri Johnson

Investor Relations Coordinator

As Investor Relations Coordinator, Teri is responsible for scheduling investor meetings, corrdinating quarterly events, managing communications with new and prospective investors, maintaining accounts receivable and updating the organization's investor database and online directory.  She also provides support to the Rockforward! Leadership Council and Business & Community Relations Solutions Team.

Prior to joining the RAEDC staff in January 2010, Teri held marketing and management positions in sales and financial services in Texas, New York, and West Virginia.

Teri earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from West Virginia University. She and her husband, a native of this region, relocated to the Rockford area from Texas in 2009, demonstrating the boomerang effect.






A. Joshua Patterson

Business Attraction Coordinator

As Business Attraction Coordinator for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Joshua Patterson manages project communications and client assistance activities related to domestic and international business attraction efforts; assisting at all levels with business recruitment efforts, and responsible for successful management of business recruitment and select expansion projects in the Rockford Region. As well, Joshua assists in the development and maintenance of relationships with corporate real estate executives, site selection consultants, national real estate brokers, prospective clients and local companies. Additionally, his position supports the coordination of designated cluster activities with regional economic development partners; the planning and administration of trade shows, marketing trips, and special events to promote increased jobs and investment in the Rockford region; and with the coordination of Foreign Trade Zone #176.

Joshua joined the RAEDC in July of 2014, bringing with him experience in sales, marketing, and community service. He is the current President and co-founder of the Wabongo Leadership Council, a non-profit with a mission to build leadership capacity within the community to service needs within education, community/economic development and health/wellness. Joshua is also actively involved with the Rockford Park District as a Program Assistant organizing and facilitating seasonal sporting events for Rockford's youth, and serves as a motivational speaker focues on education attainments, leadership and mentorship.

Joshua holds a B.S. in Communication Studies from Luther College; achieving additional educational success by managing a mentorship program in Ghana, Africa at the end of 2012. Joshua has also served as an instructor with Patriots Gateway, developing Black History curriculum and program, and teaching to over 50 elementary students.




Jennie Broecker

Communications and Marketing Coordinator

Jennie is responsible for the RAEDC's communications, marketing and public relations and contributes to the organization's economic development strategic plan.

Jennie's job is to share the many positive economic stories and possibilities of the Rockford region not just with potential businesses that could locate here but also our own business, government and community stakeholders. She also helps demonstrate what the Rockford Area Economic Development Council does and can do for the Rockford region, from business attraction, retention and development to regional branding.

Jennie knows the Rockford area well because she has worked her entire professional career here. Before joining the RAEDC in October 2014, she served in a number of editor and project management roles at the Rockford Register Star; she also created and directed a centralized newspaper operation for parent company GateHouse Media.

Jennie holds a bachelor of arts degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She's a member of the Rockford Rotary Club, inspired during a 2010 mission trip to Nigeria to improve the world in our own back yard and beyond.




Beatrice Miller

Business Development Assistant

As Business Development Assistant, Bea supports the Vice President for Development and the Business Development Specialist. Her primary focus is on Voice of the Customer surveys and the Business Retention & Expansion Solutions Team. Bea also coordinates the quarterly Coffee Talk Program and assists with other key events.

Bea is a native of Rockford and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.





Ericia Hall

Administrative Assistant

As Administrative Assistant for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), Ericia serves as the first point of contact for investors, clients, and partners. Her primary duties include managing the reception and phones, providing assistance with scheduling and meeting preparation, overseeing the maintenance of the client database, and coordinating distribution of event notifications and press releases. She is also responsible for tracking media hits relative to the organization.

Ericia grew up in Rockford and attended Jefferson High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Northern Illinois University. Ericia joined the organization in November of 2012 with prior customer service and administrative experience.