In 2010, the Gross Metropolitan Product of the Rockford Region grew 3.5 % to $11 billion.

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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

President

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.

 

Email: mnicholas@rockfordil.com

 815.969.4264815.969.4264

 

 

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.

 

Email: mpodemski@rockfordil.com

 815.969.4254815.969.4254

 

 

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.

 

Email: czethmayr@rockfordil.com

 815.969.4263815.969.4263

 

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.

 

Email: lhillis@rockfordil.com

 815.969.4253815.969.4253 

 

 

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.


Email: jkuborn@rockfordil.com

815.969.4259815.969.4259

 

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.

Email: thall@rockfordil.com

815.969.4258815.969.4258

 

 

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.

 

Email: tjohnson@rockfordil.com

 815.969.4261815.969.4261

 

 

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.

 

Email:  bmiller@rockfordil.com

 815.969.4255815.969.4255

 

Devon White

National Business Development Assistant

As National Business Development Assistant, Devon supports the Vice President for National Business Development and the Director of the Illinois SBDC International Trade Center, Administrator of FTZ #176.
 
Devon’s focus is on managing the administrative and marketing obligations of the Business Attraction Department and the International Trade Center. Devon also coordinates various national and international economic development programs and events.

Devon earned her Bachelor’s in Spanish language and minor in Communication Studies from Augustana College.



Email: dwhite@rockfordil.com

 815.969.4267815.969.4267

 

 

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.

Email: ehall@rockfordil.com

 815.969.4260815.969.4260