Rockford Delegation to Highlight Region's Aerospace Cluster in Paris

April 4, 2013, ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS – The Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN) is pleased to announce six of the nine Illinois companies attending the 50th International Paris Air Show are from the Rockford region. The event, which will be held from June 17 to 23, is the largest and world’s most prestigious tradeshow focused on business aerospace and aviation. RAAN along with the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the State of Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Trade and Investment will have a co-branded state-of-the-art booth at the show.

In an effort to expand and grow trade activities, the state has awarded STEP grant funding to nine Illinois companies to attend the trade show. The Rockford region represents six of the nine companies attending the show with the State of Illinois. The local companies in attendance include:

  • Clinkenbeard
  • Chicago Rockford International Airport
  • Ingenium Aerospace
  • Ingenium Technologies
  • Kaney Aerospace
  • Midwest Aero Support

The State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP) is a 3-year pilot trade and export initiative authorized by the federal Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Under the Act the SBA provides competitive grant funding to states to support export promotion for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). DCEO’s Office of Trade and Investment has won STEP grants in each of the first two years of the pilot program. Illinois' STEP funding provides assistance to Illinois SMEs in order to raise the dollar value of export sales from the state.

“Rockford is mid-America’s best international aerospace community and we plan to highlight that fact at the Paris Air Show,” said Eric Voyles, vice president for national business development at the Rockford Area Economic Development Council. “Our strategy is to increase foreign direct investment in our region, which will ultimately lead to new business development and more job creation.”

Governor Pat Quinn has a goal of doubling Illinois exports by 2014. “In order to meet this goal we need to provide opportunities for Illinois companies to gain international exposure,” said Adam Pollet, the Acting Director of DCEO. “We are thrilled we have been able to secure STEP grant funding for two years and are able to share that resource with the companies on this delegation to Paris.” 

The Illinois and RAAN booth will be located in the USA Pavilion Hall 3 Stand E128.

The Rockford Area Economic Development Council formed RAAN in 2010 to gain more high-paying aerospace jobs and increase business opportunities for aerospace suppliers in the region.  More than 200 aerospace suppliers have operations in the Greater Rockford area, which stretches east toward Chicago and north into southern Wisconsin.

Five major tier-one aerospace suppliers are in the Rockford region: B/E Aerospace, GE Aviation, Esterline, United Technologies Aerospace Systems, and Woodward. More than 6,500 employees in the industry sector work in the Rockford MSA. The network’s companies serve industry leaders like Boeing and Airbus, which benefit from being able to visit multiple suppliers during one visit to Rockford.


The primary role of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council is to collaboratively enhance wealth creation in the Rockford Region by helping employers retain and create quality jobs while promoting the region. The RAEDC works closely with many partners to learn what existing and new employers need to grow and to serve as a one-stop resource for clients.  The RAEDC seeks to improve the competitiveness of the region by taking what it learns from the regions employers engaging the community in the daily work of economic development to improve the competitiveness of the region.


RAAN (Rockford Area Aerospace Network) is a committee of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) and offers a platform for collaboration among local aerospace companies and institutions that serve the industry.  RAAN serves as the forum where the Rockford region’s aerospace industry cluster development strategy is refined and advanced on an on-going basis. RAAN is supported by the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge and the Economic Development Administration division of the Department of Commerce. The Challenge leverages existing resources from 16 federal agencies and award funds to regions that demonstrate the existence of high-growth industries that support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities.