RAEDC has been growing steadily in the Rockford Area for 10 years.

About the RAEDC              View Newsletters

International Trade Center

In collaboration with Rock Valley College, the RAEDC is a designated Illinois SBDC International Trade Center (ITC).  The ITC works with Rockford Area companies on establishing and improving export programs to increase the total value of goods exported from the Rockford Area of Illinois. Services are provided to companies to walk them through the process of establishing and growing an export program. The ITC also can provide assistance to foreign companies interested in sourcing manufactured products from the United States.

International Strategies

The Rockford Region is “The Best Mid-sized International City in the United States" for many reasons including:

  • Rockford is one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the state of Illinois.
  • The Region has nine Sister Cities spread around the globe and one industrial trade agreement.
  • Over 11 trade delegations visited the Rockford Region in 2009 alone and the region sponsored six trade missions abroad.
  • An international arrival gate is located at RFD with 24-hour Customs and Border Security Service.
  • The region boasts a growing export business culture that grew 49% from 2005 to 2008 and was $1.475 Billion for 2009.
  • Exports as a percentage of GMP are growing at an increasing rate and averaging a double digit figure. 
  • Exports made up 11.8% of the Rockford Area’s GMP in 2008.
  • Companies from over 20 nations have made Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) decisions in the Rockford area.
  • The region was recently provided with a federal, “Immigration through Investment Zone.”
  • The region has future international aspirations, which include a “World Trade Center” and additional Sister Cities and Industrial Trade Agreements.


Export Growth

Companies that compete in the global marketplace are both more profitable and sustainable. For the Rockford Region to grow, international exports must represent an increasing portion of our GMP. That is why international outreach efforts will continue to play a pivotal role in the RAEDC’s economic development strategy. We will continue to conduct events such as “Go Global" (coming up on April 12-13, 2011!) wherein global trade specialists will conduct focused seminars to over 200 participants on how local businesses can increase results through exporting and importing. Over 12 percent of our region’s wealth can be attributed to exporting, and this statistic is growing at 22 percent per year, translating into $1.5 Billion of potential wealth by 2012. Over 80 percent of exports in the Rockford Region are from our manufacturing companies.

The international trade center can provide the following services to assist with your international growth:

  • Assessing export readiness
  • Export business planning
  • Assisting in foreign market entry
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Education and networking forums
  • Export document training
  • Identifying potential export markets
  • Identifying potential foreign buyers
  • International marketing strategies
  • International partnerships
  • Navigating customs regulations
  • Risk management
  • Trade finance

Interested in international expansion or exploring new markets? Want to connect with a representative from a specific country? The Chicago International Trade Commissioners Association, made up of consulates and trade commissioners representing over 40 countries from 6 continents, is a great resource that is located in neighboring Chicago. Click here to find a representative from your country of interest.

Foreign Direct Investment

The RAEDC markets the Rockford Region internationally with the goal of attraction FDI to our Region. Initiatives include

  • Marketing the Rockford Region to international trade representatives and business groups in Chicago.
  • Attending international trade shows in our targeted growth industries, setting meetings with high growth, international companies looking to grow presence in the U.S.
  • Conducting international impact missions, on which RAEDC staff and local government officials meet with high growth, international companies looking to grow presence in the U.S. and government officials.
  • Host international delegations looking for business opportunities in the U.S.
  • Distribute e-newsletters to international contacts highlighting opportunities for investment in the Rockford Area.
  • Market the Immigration through Investment EB-5 Visa Program to attract investment into our region.
  • Develop our relationships with our sister cities who then recommend the Rockford Region as an investment opportunity to their local companies.


These regional strategies have lead to the following foreign direct investments in the Rockford Area:


  • Wanxiang Group (China) began development of solar panel assembly plant
  • Tigerfish (Australia) announces development of prototype aircraft in Rockford


  • Danfoss (Denmark) began a 129,000 sf expansion
  • Global Display Solutions (Italy) expands into Rockford


  • Radius (Sweden) moves U.S. headquarters to Rockford
  • Schneider (France) acquires local company, TAC


Carrie Zethmayr
815.969.4268 (p)
630.640.7437 (c)

International Links


The IL SBDC International Trade Center of the Rockford Area is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Rock Valley College.