Household Names to Highly Specialized Niches
The region’s food processing cluster includes companies in Green, Jefferson, Rock and Walworth counties in Wisconsin and Boone, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago in Illinois. Statistics for 2005 show 133 food manufacturers that employ more than 8,500 people. These counties share a common list of attractions. They include affordable and reliable utility service (water, sewer, gas and electric), proximity to important markets, good transportation infrastructure, proximity to raw materials, a strong infrastructure of related industries, properly planned industrial parks and access to a knowledgeable work force.
According to a 2005 study conducted by Northern Illinois University’s Regional Development Institute, the Rockford area’s food-processing industry is stable, even during economic downturns.
- Rockford area has great location, very good access to highways and rail, excellent proximity to supply chains, and low transportation cost.
- Wastewater treatment and sanitized-return infrastructure is excellent and abundant. See related story below.
- Area offers low cost, fully improved industrial sites.
- Rockford also boasts low cost of doing business. Winnebago County is the second lowest in annual operating costs compared to other areas in the study.
- Region has high quality of life, low cost of living and very affordable housing give the workforce greater purchasing power.
- The region has a strong infrastructure of related industries and support services, like tool and die or machine shops, food equipment manufacturers, package manufacturers and plastics companies.
Regional Food-Processing Companies
Some of the food-processing companies in the area include:
- Dean Foods
- General Mills
- Del Monte
- Holsum Bread
- Kerry Group
- Kraft Foods
- Muller-Pinehurst Dairy
- Sara Lee
- TH Foods
- 7-Up and much more
For more information about the food-processing industry in Winnebago County, contact Eric Voyles, RAEDC vice president of national business development at 815.987.8118 or email@example.com.
The Rockford area built a strong cluster of food processing companies for many reasons.
- The region is served by 3 interstate, 2 federal and 9 state highways
- The I-39 corridor links to other corridors, including I-90/94, I-80, I-88 and I-74
- The Rockford Region affords excellent proximity to supply chain partners
- The Rock River provides an excellent and abundant source for wastewater treatment and sanitized return
- The area offers low cost of fully-improved industrial sites
- Low regional cost of doing business
- High quality of life with low cost of living and housing costs affords the workforce greater purchasing power
Workforce: Dedicated & Productive
- The region has significantly higher productivity in both sugar and confectionary products and animal food manufacturing than in both Illinois and the U.S.
- The local industry experiences low labor stress
- The area offers good workforce availability - over 325,000 within a 30 mile radius
- There is a high quality workforce able to work independently and responsibly
- The area boasts midwest regional values and a strong work ethic
Colleges & Universities
Training opportunities exist with regional colleges and universities, including:
- Northern Illinois University (NIU)...5,400 undergraduate and graduate degrees granted annually;
- Rockford College...400 degrees granted annually
- Rock Valley College...2,000 degrees granted annually as well as over 75 other regional colleges and technical schools
The region is currently home to over 30 food processing companies, employing over 2,500 people.
Area Food Processing Companies